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Scottish Medicine 
in two volumes 


ftp*** ^K^nt^u.H^ i 

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Gaelic Medical MS. dating from a short time after 1400 a.d. 

This MS. belonged at one time to John Beaton. It deals with Materia Medica, the substances being 
mentioned in alphabetical order. This page treats of Balsamum, Balanon and Barba. (See Chapter V) 

(Reproduced from page 39 of Gaelic Medical MS. Ill in the National Library, Edinburgh) 





M.A., B.SC, M.D., F.R.C.P. 

Physician to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh ; 
Lecturer on the Practice of Medicine in the School of Medicine of the Royal Colleges at Edinburgh 
and on History of Medicine in the University of Edinburgh; 
President, History of Medicine Section, British Medical Association Meetings, 1927 and 1930; 
Late Consulting Physician to the British Forces in North Russia. 

Published for 
54, Wigmore Street, London, w. 



7 & 8, Henrietta Street, Covent garden 
london, w.c.2 


The contents of this book are copyright. 
Neither letterpress nor illustrations may 
be reproduced without permission of 
The Wellcome Foundation Ltd. 

Printed and bound in England for 

The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum 
(The Wellcome Foundation Ltd.) 
London (England), W. i 


To Second Edition 

Thee e is probably no specialised branch of study which embraces the whole 
history of mankind to such a comprehensive degree as that of medicine and the 
allied sciences. Within this field of investigation come all the vicissitudes of 
human existence and endeavour. 

ft is by the historical methods of approach in medical research that 
we arc enabled to understand and reveal the philosophies and practices 
of ancient peoples. By thus expounding the achievements, the failures and 
the evolution of human effort, inspiration is aroused, leading to discovery 
and invention. 

In the middle of the seventeenth century the great historian, Bishop 
Fuller, demonstrating a true conception of the value of historical research, 
remarked that it " maketh a young man to be old without wrinkles or grey 
hairs ; privileging him with the experience of age without either the infirmities 
or inconveniences thereof. ... It not only maketh things past present, 
but enableth one to make a rational conjecture of things to come." 

As we delve into the history of mankind we find the foundations of medicine 
are submerged in the realms of magic and priestcraft with their profusion of 
charms, amulets and talismans, mysterious ceremonies and superstitious practices. 
From these primitive origins of the art of healing, and from the long intervening 
centuries of religio-medical beliefs, modern medical science has been slowly evolved. 

Although we realise that many of the medical and scientific opinions of to-day 
may in the next century be discredited, yet it is the discerning student of 
history who discovers the fact that from the errors of the past many new truths 
of modern science are to be disclosed. 

It is of paramount importance, therefore, that from every practical stand- 
point, the student of to-day should understand and appreciate the incalculable 
value of the history of medical science. Not only does it enable research 
workers and students to gain a clear and comprehensive view of the progressive 
stages by which the present condition of knowledge has been reached, but it also 
offers an unfailing source of inspiration for future discovery. 

From the close of the seventeenth century Edinburgh has occupied 
a position pre-eminent in the academic world of medicine and surgery, a 
distinction which is due largely to the zealous enthusiasm and inspiration of the 
celebrated Dr. Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713) and his contemporaries. Pitcairne, 
like Borelli in Italy, became one of the founders of the Iatro-mechanical or 
Iatro-mathematical school of thought. The system developed from Harvey's 
demonstration of the circulation of the blood, and its adherents attempted to 
prove that all the bodily functions were mere mechanical activities. Although 
this idea did not prevail for long, it formed, for the century after Harvey, an 
experimental working hypothesis, the principal result of which was undoubtedly 
to develop an exceptionally keen interest in the study of anatomy and physiology. 

I o 


Thus at the commencement of the eighteenth century the brilliant 
anatomical work of Pitcairne and other Edinburgh surgeons resulted in the 
appointment of Robert Eliot as first professor of anatomy (1705) in Britain. 

To Pitcairne more than anyone else may justly be assigned the credit 
not only of originating the Edinburgh Medical School, but of doing much 
to establish the world-wide reputation it gained, which even in those days 
was due largely to its acceptance of the Paduan tradition which Pitcairne so 
strenuously upheld. 

Again, in the nineteenth century, as a pioneer in the teaching of the history 
of medicine, we find Edinburgh leading the way. Even as early as 1857 such 
importance was attached to the subject in Edinburgh that the distinguished 
Dr. James Warburton Begbie (1826-1876) inaugurated a series of lectures on 
the history of medicine in the extra-academical school. After a number of 
years they ceased through Begbie having relinquished the post on account 
of the great demand for his professional services as a consultant. 

Notwithstanding this lead, however, less than 30 years ago not one 
university in the British Empire was providing regular academic instruction in 
the history of medicine. 

It was in 1907 that the authorities of the University of Edinburgh, 
demonstrating once again their characteristic forethought and powers of discern- 
ment in educational matters, forestalled other British Universities by founding 
a lectureship in the history of medicine. Thus they led the way in the 
establishment of regular university teaching upon a subject which, formerly 
considered of extraneous interest, now seems destined to become an integral part 
of medical education. 

It was with special gratification, therefore, that I learned of the establishment 
of the lectureship on the history of medicine, and of the appointment of 
Dr. J. D. Comrie as Lecturer in the University of Edinburgh. 

The acceptance of such an appointment was an undertaking of no mean 
responsibility. The fact that during the 19 academic years which have ensued, 
from 1908-9 to 1931,* attendances at these lectures have consistently maintained 
an average of close on 100 students, bears witness both to the perspicacity of the 
University authorities, and to the unfailing enthusiasm and ability of Dr. Comrie 
during the 24 years he has held the appointment. 

The remarkable success which has attended Dr. Comrie's teaching is 
undoubtedly due to his profound knowledge, his untiring zeal for the subject of 
medical history, and to the proficiency of his work at Edinburgh. The erudite 
character of his contributions upon the history of medicine to scientific journals 
and transactions of learned societies has deservedly gained for him a world 

* During the years of the World War, no University Lectures were held in this subject 
at Edinburgh (1915-1919). 


1 1 

It had long been a matter of wonderment to me why greater interest 
was not taken in the history of the art and science of healing, embracing 
as it does, not only medicine and surgery, but also chemistry, pharmacy, 
anthropology, etc. For the chemist, the lawyer or the philosopher who wishes 
to attain eminence in his particular profession, a comprehensive knowledge of its 
historical development is essential. This fact is especially true with regard to 

As a student I experienced difficulties in acquiring a knowledge of the 
origins and development of medicine, etc., owing to the paucity of material in 
Museums and private collections of objects illustrating the history of the 
healing arts. 

It was the interest and knowledge that I derived from the collection of 
such objects for my own information which afterwards stimulated me to 
establish, for the benefit of others, a museum specifically devoted to the history 
of medicine and the allied sciences. 

It is encouraging to observe the growing frequency with which University 
and other lecturers now bring their students to the Historical Medical Museum 
in London to expound by objective demonstrations the fascination and practical 
value of the teaching of the history of medicine. These visual object-lessons 
do much more than merely supplement the oral instruction of the lecture-room ; 
they help very materially to infuse into the dry bones of history a live and 
realistic interest. 

In the world of medicine and surgery, Scotland has produced a remarkable 
number of men of professional eminence, and that country's universities have 
always stood conspicuously in the forefront of medical knowledge and practice. 

In 1927, I invited Dr. Comrie to prepare a comprehensive History of 
Scottish Medicine, a task for which he is so well qualified ; and the present 
volumes are the outcome. The amount of research entailed in an undertaking 
of this character is obviously great, a labour which Dr. Comrie has accomplished 
with marked skill and intuition. Throughout the work he has maintained a high 
standard, and in the treatment of his subject has revealed rare gifts of mind. 

The 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal College of Physicians 
of Edinburgh in 1681 seems to be a fitting time for the appearance of this work. 


The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum 

November, 1931. 

Design of Obverse and Reverse of 
The Wellcome Medals 

These Gold and Silver Medals are awarded annually for competitive essays by Students 
on some subject of Medical History by the University of Edinburgh 


To Second Edition 

A brief, limited edition of this work, in one volume, tracing the history of 
medicine in Scotland up to i860, was issued on the occasion of the inauguration 
of the Section for Medical History at the British Medical Association Meeting 
held at Edinburgh in 1927. In the present edition, comprising two volumes, 
the early history has been treated more fully, and both text and illustrations 
have been greatly extended. 

This enlarged edition deals with the history of medicine in Scotland up to 
the end of the 19th century. Institutions or processes that were undergoing 
development at that date have been outlined up to the present time, but have 
not been treated in detail beyond the year 1900. In cases where reference is 
made to members of the profession still living, no elaborate description or appraisal 
of their work has been attempted. 

In some details, material utilised in these volumes has already been included 
in papers which, in the past, I have contributed to the Edinburgh Medical 
Journal, British Medical Journal, Canadian Medical Association Journal or 
other periodicals, or read at International Congresses of Medical History in 
London and Geneva. 

Occasionally, some of the universities, medical corporations and the great 
hospitals have individually issued historical accounts of their institutions ; 
but hitherto no comprehensive work dealing with Scottish medicine as a whole 
has been published, although medical practice in Scotland presents many 
highly characteristic indigenous features. 

Throughout I have endeavoured to indicate the influence which various 
medical and educational institutions, as well as many distinguished men in 
Scottish medicine, have exerted upon the general advancement of medical 
knowledge at home and abroad. Also, I have attempted to trace the connection 
existing between the development of medical practice and social history in 
Scotland at various epochs. 

It is believed that this work will appeal to the increasing number of research 
workers, students and others who are now taking an active interest in the 
history of medicine and particularly to those who have been trained in Scotland 
or otherwise connected with the Scottish medical schools. 

Special effort has been made to render the work useful to those who wish 
to extend their researches in this subject, and, with that end in view, care has 
been taken to provide copious footnotes of reference to sources of original 
information, which may be consulted by those desiring to pursue further 
their studies of individual phases of medical history in Scotland. 


The importance and growing recognition of medical history are indicated 
by the establishment ot a lectureship on the history of medicine at the University 
of Edinburgh in 1907. This substantial and increasing interest is well 
demonstrated by the fact that, since the inauguration of this lectureship, over 
1800 graduates and undergraduates have attended this course. 

For the purpose of encouraging original research in the History of Medicine, 
Dr. Henry S. Wellcome, in 1912, endowed the annual award of a gold and a silver 
medal, for the best essays on this subject in a competitive examination ; these 
awards to be adjudicated by the University of Edinburgh authorities.* This 
endowment has done much to stimulate medico-historical research amongst the 
students of the University. 

I desire to record my great obligation to those friends who have assisted in 
the preparation of these volumes, by indicating sources of information, by 
advising on subjects of which they have special knowledge, or by helping 
me to obtain illustrations. These services have been so numerous that 
individual acknowledgment is impossible, therefore I ask those to whose kindness 
I am indebted in these matters to be good enough to accept this assurance 
of my gratitude. In this connection I must mention the permission granted 
by the trustees of the late Dr. William Gemmell to use his unpublished 
notes on Mediaeval Hospitals. The original sources of illustrations are 
acknowledged under the individual reproductions. 

I am deeply indebted to Miss J. B. Gardner for the great amount 
of labour she has devoted to verifying references and quotations, and for 
the care and helpful criticism she has rendered in reading the proofs. 

Finally, I have to thank those connected with The Wellcome Historical 
Medical Museum for much valuable assistance. My gratitude is especially 
due to Dr. Henry S. Wellcome for the deep interest he has taken in the 
preparation of this work, and for writing the Foreword. 

J. D. C. 

25, Manor Place 


November, 1931. 

* During the 20 years since their inception, 15 gold medals and 15 silver medals have 
been awarded, and the results have been extremely encouraging. Owing to the 
European War no competition was held from 1916 to 1919, whilst in the year 1929 no Essay 
was submitted of a standard to justify the award being made. 

Volume l 

List of Illustrations . 
chapter I — Medicine of Primitive Scotland and of the 


Sepulchral monuments and relics of Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages — The Druids — 
Hereditary physicians — Roman practitioners and surgical instruments 

chapter ii — medicine of the early christian and saxon 

Period . . . . . . . . . .41 

Culdee medicine — Cures by St. Columba — Principal Scottish holy wells — Amulets — 
Anglian influence in medicine— Cures by St. Cuthbert — Leech Book of Bald. 

Chapter ill — Monastic Medicine of the Twelfth to 

fourteenth centuries ....... 57 

State of Scotland in 12th century — Michael Scot — Edward I. of England — Remedies used 
in his fatal illness — Last illness of Robert Bruce — Physicians' fees in 14th century — 
Medical books in monasteries — 12th centurv medicinal compend — Works on simples 
and medical practice. 

Chapter iv — medical Practice in the Fifteenth Century 8i 

Paul Crawar, medical missionary — 15th century physicians and fees — William Schevez, 
churchman and physician — His interest in astrology — His ecclesiastical preferment 
— Antidotarium — Lyber Graduum — Lyber Aureus — MS. of Geraldus de Solo — 
A medical course in the 15th century. 



Scope of Gaelic medical literature — Highland medical families — Surviving Gaelic medical 
MSS. — Treatise on materia medica — John Macbeth's vade-mecum — The " Lilium 
Medicinae " — Other medical MSS. 


Nature of early hospitals — Their decay — Attempts at restoration — Early hospitals in 
southern Scotland — Priory of Torphichen — Early hospitals in west Scotland — Bishop 
Muirhead's hospital of St. Nicholas — Early hospitals in central Scotland — Monastic 
infirmary at Inchcolm — Early hospitals in east Scotland — Bishop Dunbar's hospital 
— Early hospitals in north Scotland — Post-ieformation hospitals. 

Chapter VM— Medical renaissance in the time of 

James IV. . . . . . . ■ • • ■ 143 

Sanitation and public health measures — An early member of the Barbers' Guild — 
Regulation of poisons — Apothecaries — James IV. — his interest in medicine — Charter to 
the surgeons and barbers of Edinburgh. 

2 O 



Chapter vni — practice at Edinburgh and elsewhere in 

THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY . . . . . . -165 

Surgeons of Edinburgh — Military surgeons — Exemptions to surgeons — Gilbert Primrose 
— John Naysmith — Town medical officer — Case of Archbishop John Hamilton — 
Jerome Cardan — Surgeons of Dundee — Medical books of the 16th century. 

chapter ix — leprosy, syphilis and plague: early public 

Health regulations ....... 193 

Early notices of leprosy — Regulations — Leper hospitals — Appearance of Syphilis — 
Early accounts of plague in Scotland — Isolation regulations — Fumigation — Notification 
— Penalty of death for non-compliance — Cleansing and burial regulations — Isolation 
period eight days — Disinfection by boiling — Plague medical officer appointed — 
Rats and mice to be destroyed. 

TEENTH CENTURY ......... 223 

State of Scotland in 17th century — High repute of Edinburgh surgeons — Medical items in 
John Lamont's diary — Diseases prevalent in Fife — John Makgill, minister and doctor 
— Anderson's pills — Professional fees — Richard Wiseman — Thomas Sydenham — 
Medicine in the Highlands — Members of the Beaton family — Diseases and remedies 
in Skye. 

TEENTH CENTURY ....... 239 

Enactments in favour of Edinburgh surgeons — Adoption of pharmacy by the surgeons 
— Royal College of Surgeons — Christopher Irving — Decline and end of the barbers 
— James Borthwick — Alexander Pennycuik — Alexander Monteath — The Surgeons' 
Hall — Robert Eliot — Adam Drummond — John M'Gill — Alexander Monro. 

chapter x i 1 — foundation of the physic garden and of 

the royal College of physicians at Edinburgh . 261 

Desirability of a phvsic garden — First garden at Holyrood — Second at Trinity Hospital — 
Third at the Town's College — Fourth at the Surgeons' Hall — Sir Robert Sibbald founds 
College of Phvsicians — Charter of 1G81 — Archibald Pitcairne — Sir Thomas Burnet — 
— Sir Archibald Stevensone — Sir Andrew Balfour — Sir David Hay — Dr. Matthew 
Brisbane — Dr. James Halket — Completion of the pharmacopoeia — Foundation of 
the Infirmary. 

chapter xi 1 1 — foundation of the faculty of medicine 

in the University at Edinburgh ..... 289 

Beginnings of medical teaching at Edinburgh — James Crawford — Alexander Monro 
— Institutes and practice of medicine — William Porterfield — John Rutherford — 
Andrew St. Clair — Andrew Plummer — John Innes — Midwifery — Joseph Gibson — 
Robert Smith — Degree of M.D. 



Chapter XIV — Medicine at Edinburgh in the latter half 

of the Eighteenth century ...... 303 

M.D. examination — Thomas Young — Alexander Hamilton — Robert Whvtt — John 
Gregory — A. M. Drummond — James Gregory — William Cullen — His great reputation 
— John Brown — Joseph Black — Discovery of carbon dioxide — Latent heat — Daniel 
Rutherford — Discovery of nitrogen — Francis Home — Alexander Monro (sreundus) 
— John Bell — Charles Bell — Alexander Wood — James Rae — Dentistry — John Rae — 
Benjamin Bell — Royal Medical Society — American students — Student life in iSth 

chapter xv — the early medical school of glasgow to 

the End of the Eighteenth century . . . . 343 

University founded — Barbers and Physicians — Peter Lowe — Faculty of Physicians 
and Surgeons — The charter — Later charters — Matthew Brisbane — Witchcraft — 
Robert Houston — Ovariotomy — John Gordon — Tobias Smollett — William Smellie — 
Physic garden — William Cullen — Joseph Black — John Robison — Robert Cleghorn 
— Alexander Stevenson. 

chapter xvi — the early medical school at aberdeen 

and King's college ........ 365 

Barbers — Foundation of King's College or University — List of mediciners — James 
Cumyne — Robert Gray — Gilbert Skeen — Duncan I.iddel — Arthur Johnston — 
Alexander Reid — William Davidson — Patrick Dun — William Gordon — Andrew Moore 
— Patrick Urcpihart — James Gregory (elder) — James Gregory (younger) — John 
Gregory — Sir Alexander Gordon — William Chalmers — Alexander and James Banner- 
man — William Gregory— Attempts to unite the two colleges — Early student life at 

Volume II. 



Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia — Popular books on medicine — Smallpox in 17th and 18th 
centuries — Cullen's description of inoculation — Vaccination — The whey cure — Diseases 
in the north of Scotland — William Smellie — Mungo Park — James Lind — Sir John 
Pringle — Founder of military medicine — Campaign of 1745- 1746 — the Hanoverian 
army — Sir Stuart Threipland. 

chapter xviii — the eighteenth century voluntary 

Hospital movement and the royal asylums . . 449 

The Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh — Hospital for Children — Maternity Hospital — 
Dispensaries — Glasgow Town's Hospital — Glasgow Royal Infirmary — Western 
Infirmary — Victoria Infirmary — Hospital for Children — Maternity Hospital — Eye 
Infirmary — Infirmary at Aberdeen — Hospital for Children — Hospitals at Dumfries — 
Montrose — Dundee — Paisley — Inverness — Greenock — Elgin — Perth — Stirling — Royal 
Asylums — Board of Lunacy set up — Parole and boarding-out systems — Alexander 
Morison — Thomas Laycock. 




Chapter XIX — medicine at Edinburgh early in the 


James Gregory — M.D. examination a century ago — Andrew Duncan — T. C. Hope — 
— James Hamilton — James Home — John Abercrombie — Andrew Combe — J. S. 
Combe — Alexander Monro (tevtius) — John Barclay — Resurrectionists — Robert 
Knox — James Russell — Military surgery — John Thomson — George Ballingall — 
— John William Turner — Forensic medicine. 



Glasgow infirmaries — Position of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons — Hunterian 
museum — John Anderson- — His college or university — James Jeff ray — Resurrectionists 
— Allen Thomson — Thomas Thomson — John Burns — J. A. Lawrie — Robert Freer — 
Charles Badham — William Thomson — John Macfarlane — Andrew Buchanan — 
Harry Rainy — Richard Millar — John Couper — John Alexander Easton — Thomas 
Graham — William Mackenzie — Robert Watt — Moses Steven Buchanan — Robert 
Perry — Early Student life in Glasgow. 



Marischal College or University — Patrick Chalmers — Matthew Mackaile — -James 
Gordon — Alexander Donaldson — William Livingston — Aberdeen Medical Society — 
James McGrigor — Charles Skene — List of Lecturers — University of Aberdeen — John 
Macrobin — William Pirrie — Alexander Ogston — John Struthers — Francis Ogston — 
Andrew Fyfe — J. S. Brazier — George Dickie — James Nicol — H. A. Nicholson — 
George Ogilvie Forbes — Alexander Harvey — Robert Dyce — William Stephenson 
— J. W. F. Smith Shand — D. W. Finlay — D. J. Hamilton — Examinations 
about i860. 


Founding of LTniversity — Early medical teaching — Thomas Simson — James Flint — 
Robert Briggs — Arthur Connell — John Reid — G. E. Day — J. B. Pettigrew — 
University College, Dundee — Affiliation with St. Andrews — James Mackenzie — Recent 


J. W. Turner — Charles Bell — James Miller — John Lizars — Sir William Fergusson — 
R. J. Mackenzie — Robert Liston — James Syme — Joseph Lister — James Young 
Simpson — Queen's College — William Campbell — Alexander Ziegler — Alexander 
Keiller — J. M. Duncan — Thomas Keith — Allen Thomson — John Hughes Bennett — 
W. P. Alison — Thomas Laycock — David Craigie — Alexander Wood — W. T. Gairdner 
— J. Warburton Begbie — G. W. Balfour — Robert Christison — John Goodsir — 
William Henderson — William Gregory — Lyon Playfair — T. S. Traill — Edinburgh 
lecturers to 1870. 



chapter xxiv — the glasgow school towards the end 

of the Nineteenth century ...... 633 

Medical Faculty in i860 — St. Mungo's College — Joseph Lister — development of Listerism 
— G. H. B. Macleorl — William Macewen — George Buchanan — H. C. Cameron — 

St. Andrew's Ambulance Association — George T. Beatson — W. T. Gairdner 

J. B. Russell — James Finlayson — T. M'Call Anderson — J. M. Pagan— William 
Leishman — John Cleland — Andrew Buchanan — J. G. McKendrick — Joseph Coats — 
J. B. Cowan — M. Charteris — John Macintyre — Later chairs and lectureships. 

Chapter XXV — The Edinburgh Medical school after 1 870 665 

Rebuilding of the Royal Infirmary — Miss Jex-Blake — Edinburgh Hospital for Women — 
— Lister's second Edinburgh period — Thomas Annandale — James Spence — John 
Chiene — Henry Alexis Thomson — Patrick Heron Watson — Joseph Bell — John 
Duncan — F. M. Caird — T. Grainger Stewart — John Wyllie — Byrom Bramwell — 
G. A. Gibson — John Thomson — A. R. Simpson — Angus Macdonald — J. Halliday 
Croom — A. H. F. Barbour — D. Berry Hart — J. W. Ballantyne — R. Milne Murray — 
William Turner— William Rutherford— W. R. Sanders— W. S. Greenfield— G. S. 
Woodhead — J. Lorrain Smith — Alexander Bruce — T. R. Fraser — Douglas Maclagan 
— Henry Duncan Littlejohn — A. Crum Brown — T. S. Clouston — D. Argyll Robertson — 
List of professors and lecturers from 1870 to 1900. 

Chapter XX V l — Influence of Scottish Graduates outside 

Scotland in the Nineteenth Century . . . 715 

London medical schools — Oxford — Liverpool — Manchester — Birmingham — Sheffield — 
Dublin — Philadelphia — Montreal — Quebec — Kingston — Halifax — Canadian Medical 
Societies — Sydney — Sir Gilbert Blane — Thomas Trotter — Sir William Burnett — Sir 
John Richardson — Robert Jackson — Sir James McGrigor — Henry Marshall — Thomas 
Alexander — Sir William Taylor — Sir William Leishman — Sir George King — Cinchona 
— George Bidie — Sir James Wylie — Sir Alexander Crichton — James Currie — Sir 
James Mackintosh — John Leyden — Samuel Smiles — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — 
Sir Charles Tupper — " Chinese Morrison " — Sir Charles Hastings — James Lind — 
William Wright — David Livingstone — Sir John Kirk — Andrew Davidson — Sir 
William Macgregor — Sir Patrick Manson — Sir James Cantlie — Sir Andrew Balfour. 

Chapter XX V 1 1 — medic al legislative Changes in the 


Diplomas to practice before 1858 — The Medical Act (1858) — The Universities (Scotland) 
Act (1858)— The Universities (Scotland) Act (1889)— The Lunacy (Scotland) Act (1857) 
— Amending Lunacy Acts — Public Health Legislation — Notification of infectious 
disease — Public Health (Scotland) Act (1897) — Department of Health instituted 
— National Health Insurance Act (191 1) — Medical Inspection of School Children — 
Central Midwives Board — District nurses — Local Government (Scotland) Act (i9 2 9)- 



List of Illustrations 


Volume 1 


Medical MS. ... ... ...Frontispiece 

Primitive Operation of Trephining ... 24 

Flint Knife and Two Scrapers ... ... 25 

Flint Arrow -Heads ... ... ... 26 

Bronze Age Razor Blade ... ... 27 

Bronze Age Battle Wound of Vertebrae 28 

Femur and Tibia of Bronze Age ... 28 

Pictish Animal Portraiture ... ... 32 

Roman Bronze Surgical Instruments ... 34 

Medicine Spoon from Traprain Law ... 35 

Roman Oculist's Stamp ... ... 35 

Memorial Tablet of Caius Acillobassus 36 

Tomb-stone of Anicius Ingcnuus ... 36 

Map of Britain in 626 a.d ... ... 40 

Plan of Hospital and Physic Garden at 

Monastery of St. Gall ... ... 42 

St. Triduana's or St. Margaret's Well ... 44 

Bell of St. Fillan 46 

Lee Penny ... ... ... ... 46 

View of Tweedside from Bemcrsyde ... 4S 
St. Cuthbert's Cure of Child Dying from 

Plague 50 

Healing of St. Cuthbert's Knee ... 50 

Recovery of Hysterical Woman ... 51 

St. Cuthbert Healing Young Man ... 52 

Healing of Abbess and Nun ... ... 52 

Recovery of Epileptic Boy ... ... 54 

St. Cuthbert Curing a Servant ... 54 

Portrait of Michael Scot ... ... 58 

Note of Consultation with Michael Scot 59 

Lanercost Priory ... ... ... 61 

Aphorisms of Hippocrates MS. 66, 67, 68 

Liber Galieni ad Glauconcm MS. ... 72 

Miscellaneous Recipes MS. ... ... 73 

Dispensatorium of Nicolaus MS. ... 74 

Walter de Agelon on Doses of Medicine 70 
Norman French Copy of Recipes 77, 78 

Monastery of Inchcolm... ... .. 80 

Medal of William Schevcz ... ... 84 

Ninth Book of Almansor MS. ... ... 89 

Loch Lcven Castle ... ... ... 91 

Charter of 1386 from Robert II. ... 94 

Signature of Fergus Macbeth ... ... 95 

Gaelic Medical MS. of Malcolm M'Beath 96 

Gaelic Medical MS 98 

Gaelic Medical MS. of John Beaton ... 100 

Gaelic Medical MS. of 15th Century ... 101 


Beaton Memorial Cross of 1582 ... 102 
Gaelic Medical MS. of " Lilium 

Medicinae " ... ... ... ... 103 

Soutra Aisle ... ... ... ... 111 

Trinity Hospital and Church before i860 113 

Interior of Trinity Hospital, Edinburgh 114 

Kirk o' Field ... ... ... ... 116 

Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen... ... 117 

Hospital of Our Lady, Edinburgh ... 118 

Priory of Torphichen at the present day 120 

Knight of the Hospital of St. John ... 122 

Sir James Sandilands ... ... ... 123 

Old Bridge at Stirling in 1700 ... ... 124 

Stirling, from Cambuskcnneth Abbey ... 124 

Seal of Linlithgow Leper House ... 125 

Foundation Stone of Hospital of 1530 ... 125 
Hospital of St. Nicholas, Glasgow, 

Exterior ... ... ... 126 

Ruins of Hospital at Dumbarton ... 127 

Hospital of St. Nicholas, Interior ... 128 

Plan of Hospital of St. Nicholas ... 129 

Plan of Abbey of Inchcolm ... ... 131 

Remains of Chapel at Brechin ... ... 134 

Hospital of Bishop Gavin Dunbar ... 136 

Cowane's Hospital, Stirling ... ... 138 

Nether Hospital at Stirling ... ... 138 

Seal of Trinity Hospital, Edinburgh ... 142 

Swine in Edinburgh Streets ... ... 143 

Foundress of Trinity Hospital... ... 144 

King James IV. ... ... ... ... 149 

Stirling Castle ... ... ... ... 155 

Alchemical Notes of Sir George Erskine 15S 

Seal of Cause ... ... 160, 161, 162 

Edinburgh in 1544 ... ... ... 166 

Iron Hand of Clephane... ... ... 168 

Letter of Mary, Queen of Scots ... 171 

Mortar of Gilbert Primrose ... ... 174 

Tomb of John Naysmyth ... ... 175 

Tomb of Gilbert Primrose ... ... 175 

Member of Scots Guards in time of John 

Naysmyth ... ... ... ... 176 

Blackfriars Wynd ... 178 

Seal of John Hamilton ... ... ... 179 

Jerome Cardan ... ... ... ... 180 

Archbishop Beaton's Tower at Monimail 182 

Horoscope of John Hamilton ... ... 186 

1 6th Century MS. of Medical Extracts. . . 188 


Old Tolbooth with St. Giles Church, 

Edinburgh ... ... ... ... 190 

Seal of Trinity Hospital, Edinburgh ... 191 
Glasgow, 1760 ... ... ... ... 192 

Skull of King Robert Bruce 193 

Leper Clappers ... ... ... 195 

Well at Liberton 197 

Map of Aberdeen in 16G1 ... ... 198 

Chapel of St. Roch 211 

View of Edinburgh in 17th century ... 216 
Surgeon-Apothecary of 17th century ... 222 
Dr. Patrick Anderson ... ... ... 229 

Gideon Elliot ... ... ... ... 230 

Richard Wiseman ... ... ... 232 

Stone of the Dog, Glen Lyon ... ... 237 

James P.orth wick's Tombstone ... 246 

Treasure Chest of Edinburgh Barbers ... 247 
James Borthwick ... ... ... 249 

House in Dickson's Close, Edinburgh... 250 
James Hamilton ... ... ... 255 

JohnMcGill 256 

Adam Drummond ... ... ... 256 

Dissections by Alexander Monro 

(primus) and Archibald Pitcairne ... 257 
Surgeons' Hall of 1697 ... ... ... 258 

Seal, Royal College of Surgeons, Edin- 
burgh 259 

Travelling Mountebank of 17th century 260 
Trinity Church and Hospital, Edinburgh 262 
John Hope ... ... ... ... 264 

Plan of Edinburgh in 1765 ... ... 265 

Alexander Ramsay ... ... ... 268 

Sir Robert Sibbald 272 

Archibald Pitcairne ... ... ... 276 

Robert Clerk 280 

Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia ... ... 282 

John Clerk 283 

Hall of Royal College of Physicians, 

Edinburgh, from 1781 to 1843 ... 286 
Seal of Royal College of Physicians 

of Edinburgh ... 
Town's College in 1647 ... 
John Monro 

Alexander Monro (primus) 
Alexander Monro (secundus) .. 
Alexander Monro (tertius) 
Andrew Plummer 
John Rutherford 
Seal of Edinburgh University .. 
Alexander Wood 
Alexander Hamilton 
William Cullen ... 

Robert Whytt 

Mortar of William Cullen 

287, 288 


John Brown ... ... ... ... 315 

Joseph Black ... ... ... ... 316 

Daniel Rutherford ... ... ... 318 

Francis Home ... ... ... 318, 319 

Alexander Monro (secundus) ... ... 320 

Bursa? Mucosa; of the Arm ... ... 321 

Pages from Monro " On the Brain " ... 322 

John Bell 323 

Sir Charles Bell ... ... ... ... 325 

Plan of Respiratory Nerves ... ... 326 

Alexander Wood... ... ... ... 328 

Group of Edinburgh Doctors ... ... 329 

Convivial Incident of iSth Century ... 330 
Benjamin Bell ... ... ... 331, 332 

Adam Austin ... ... ... ... 333 

Nathaniel Spens ... ... ... 334 

Gregory Grant ... 335 

John Shiells 336 

John Bennet ... ... ... ... 336 

James Graham ... ... ... 337 

Surgeons' Square in 1829 ... ... 338 

Signature of Oliver Goldsmith... ... 339 

Glasgow in the 17th Century ... ... 343 

Old College of Glasgow and Blackfriars 

Chapel 344 

Peter Lowe ... ... ... ... 346 

Figure of 16th Century Amputation ... 348 

Figure of 1 6th Century Truss ... ... 350 

Robert Hamilton 352 

William Spang 352 

Tobias Smollett ... ... ... 356 

Robert Cleghorn 360 

John Robison ... ... ... ... 360 

Seal of Royal Faculty of Physicians 

and Surgeons, Glasgow ... ... 364 

Seal of King's College, Aberdeen ... 365 

King's College, Aberdeen, about 1661... 366 

Diploma of M.D. Degree 368 

Title Page of M.D. Thesis 369 

John Arbuthnot 37° 

Title Page of " Breve Descriptioun of 

the Pest " 373 

Arthur Johnston... ... ... ... 376 

Duncan Liddel 37 6 

Robert Morison 37 s 

William Davidson 378 

Patrick Dun 379 

William Gordon 380 

James Gregory, M.A ... ... ... 381 

James Gregory (elder) 382 

John Gregory 3 8 4 

Sapient Septemviri ... ... ... 388 

Seal of King's College, Aberdeen ... 396 





Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh ... Frontispiece 

William Livingston ... ... .. 

• 540 

William Cullen's House in Hamilton ... 420 

(^iO(\viyo T<"rpnpn 

1 1 Cll^ll ... ••• •■• • • 

William Buchan ... 

•■■ 425 

Charles Skene 

• 548 

William Smellie ... 

... 436 

Sir James IVTcCi rigor 

• 54'' 

Door Plate of Mungo Park 

... 438 

William Pirrie 

• 554 

Mungo Park 

••• 439 

John JVlacrobin 

• 554 

Sir Stuart Threipland ... 

44 2 . 444 

Si r T nil ti Sf rn tVi prQ 

wll J Ullll *J LI tl lllUi O ••• ... ■ . 

• 556 

Sir John Pringle 

... 442 

Sit* A Ipva nHpr (itrcfr^Ti 

Ol L . 1 M . l . ( 1 1 1 1 V 1 O I 1 Ml ... ••• •• 

• 55 6 

Medicine Chest of Sir Stuart Threipland 446 

•i 1 1 1 11 >. 1 ~ \y ^ m 1 1 M ..* ... ... 

• 559 

Old Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh 

•■• 453 

Alexander Harvey ... ... .. 

. 562 

Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburg 

h... 455 

William Henderson 

• 562 

Glasgow Town's Hospital 

... 456 

Robert Dyce ... ... ... 

• 5 r M 

Glasgow Royal Infirmary 

... 458 

James W. F\ Smith Shand ... 


Aberdeen Royal Infirmary 


Wi 1 1 i n m S+PTih pn con 

Dumfries Infirmary, 1778 and 1791 

... 462 

David James Hamilton 

• 567 

Montrose Asylum in 1779 

... 465 

Seal of Aberdeen University 

• 569 

Sir Alexander Morison ... 

... 469 

\TaT"> of S+ Anrlrpwo. to**? 

■ 57° 

James Gregory ... 

... 472 

Spfil of S+" A ndrPWQ TTrnvprQit^r 
kJtai \jl t.H< / . 11 Li it. vi 0 l 111 v Li oil y 

• 57 1 

Prescription for Gregory's Powder 

■•• 475 

J ohn I\ nox 

■ 573 

Old Quadrangle, Edinburgh University 477 

TrtVin T?pirl 

JUllll IVLiLl ... ... ... •• 

■ 577 

Andrew Duncan (senior) 

480, 482 

James Cell Pettigrew 

■ 579 

1 homas Charles Hope ... 

... 483 

C^.a dp Ra rn Owl 

V. 'C*. UL 1 1 ■ 1 1 11 V V WX mi ... ... •• 

• 5 8 ° 

Sedan-Chair of James Hamilton 

... 484 

Sir T^tyip*; TYTapliPTiyip 

vJll 1 cllllL r> iiJdL I\L11/.1L ... ... . ■ 

• 5 8 3 

James Hamilton (the younger) 

... 484 

( rrAiin i"i t TT rl in nnrrrn T-'t"ofc>^co , r'c 
UIUUU K)L I .< 1 1 M M 1 1 1 L, I 1 JriUlCosUlb 

• 584 

j diuto in. dH in luii ( sett cur j ■ • ■ 

aR-7 a 88 

TampQ TVF ill pr 

• 588 

James Home 

... 489 

Si 1* Wi 1 1 1 Q m Pprcfn cenn 

Oil VVlillcllil 1 t 1 t; LI 30*J11 ... ... a. 

• 589 

John Abercrombie 

... 490 

T\ irna Trl T q tti pq IV T irlfOii7ip 

l » l 1 l l 1 1 1 (_1 1 ctlllCo > 1 > l 1 1 \ 1 1 1 / 1 1 ... . . 

• 590 

Andrew Combe ... 

... 492 

James Syme 

• 592 

Alexander Monro (tertius) 

•■• 493 

Robert Liston 

■ 592 

John Barclay 

... 494 

T on n T*ovL r Ti 

| ''Mil J ' 1 U Wll ... ... ... ■• 

• 595 

" The Craft in Danger " 

••• 495 

TnQpnn T icf"PT" 

J UoC 1 1 1 1 LjIo LCI ... ... ..* .. 

• 598 

John Gairdner ... 

... 500 

Sir James Young Simpson ... 


Robeit Knox 

... 501 

A Ipva ti r\ pr TCp i 1 Ipt* 

1 1 ' . ■ l 1 1 '■ . 1 l 1LL111L1 ... ... ■ ■ 


John Thomson ... 

••• 505 

TsmpQ lYffi t fli p ws T~)iiTipnTi 

1 UUlCo . > 1 1 1 IL11LVV J 1 ' ... •• 


John William Turner 

... 508 

Thomas Keith ... ... 


Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1861 

... 512 

Blood Films of Hughes Bennett 


John Anderson ... 

... 516 

Innn T-Tnrrn^c KpTiTipti - 

J (Jill 1 llLlgllL.3 XJt,Ii.llCLL ... ... 


Anderson's University ... 

■•• 517 

William Pulteney Alison 


Allen Thomson ... 

... 521 

Thomas I-aycock ... ... «. 


Thomas Thomson 

■•■ 523 

A Ipva n o* pr Woorl 


John Burns 

... 524 

Oricfinal Svrincrp nf ^ Tpyji nrlpr YY r r»rw1 

1 1 .. 1 1 1 . 1 1 ■, [ [ 1 1 _. 1 KJl \ 1 1 ■ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 YV ' " ' ' 1 ■ . 


James Adair Lawrie 

... 526 

James Warburton Begbie 


Harry Rainy 

••• 527 

Sit* T? nnprf (""liricfiGon 

oil l\u 1 1 ' 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 s . 1 3< 1 1 1 ... ... .. 


John Alexander Easton... 

... 528 

Wi 1 1 1 n tn Sli 1 rnPT^ 


John Macfarlane... 

... 528 

Tnhn fTnr>fl*iir 

1 L/llll 1 11 11 11 |M 1 ... ... ... 


William Mackenzie 

•■• 530 

William Henderson 


Thomas Graham... 

••• 530 

William Gregory... 


Robert Watt 

■•• 532 

John Argyll Robertson ... 


Moses Steven Buchanan 

•■• 533 

Lister's Male Ward, Glasgow Iniirmai) 

7 fia? 
r Oj^ 

Robert Perry 


End Section of Lister's Male Ward 

■ 634 

Quadrangle, Glasgow University 

••• 535 

Sir George Husband Baird Macleod 


William Weir 

••• 537 

Sir William Macewen 


Seal of Marischal College, Aberdeen 

... 541 

George Buchanan 

■ 643 

Old Marischal College ... 

... 542 

Sir Hector Clare Cameron 

• 6 44 

Matthew Mackaile 

■■• 544 

Sir William Tennant Gairdner... 

. 646 




James Burn Russell 


James Pinlayson 

... 650 

Sir Thomas M'Call Anderson ... 

... 650 

William Leishman 

... 652 

John Cleland 

... 654 

Pierce Adolphus Simpson 

•• 654 

Andrew Buchanan 

•• 65.5 

John Gray McKendrick. . . 

.. 656 

Joseph Coats 

.. 658 

John Black Cowan 

•• 658 

Matthew Charteris 

•• 659 

Seal of Glasgow University 

.. 664 

Sophia Jex-Blake ... ... 

A A*. 

>t^Q m Snn iicam Kt' T 1 c f or 
OLtdlll opicLV UbCLl U\ 1 .,ilH ... 

67 I 

Thomas Annandale ... ... 


James Spcnce ... 


Henrv Alexis Thomson ... 

•• 6 74 

John Chicne ... ... ... 

^1 r Mil f" n p lr r-T< »r fin W'a fec^n 

Oil r fU 1 It n \*clLo'71l ... 


1 1 ' 1 1 1 1 1 LJ til ... ... ... 


John Duncan ... ... ... 


Francis Mitchell Caird ... ... 


Sir Thomas Grainger Stewart . 

/: Q „ 

George Alexander Gibson 


Sir Byrom Bramwell 

C O 

Tuberculosis dispensary, Edinburgh 

.. 053 

John Thomson ... ... ... 

Sir Alexander Russell Simpson 


Sir John Halliday Croom 


Angus Macdonald 


David Berry Hart ... ... 


Alexander Hugh Freeland Barbour 


Robert Milne Murray 


John William Ballantyne 


c:_ Tumi.:,, . . '1 ■ _„ „ 

bir William lurner 


William Rutherford 

.. 694 

Diarmid Noel Pa ton 

Art A 

Arthur Gamgee 


William Smith Greenfield 


William Rutherford banders ... 


Alexander Bruce 

• 699 

Alexander Crum Brown 


bir 1 nomas Richard rraser 


Sir Douglas Maclagan 

• 7°4 

Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn ... 

• 7°5 

Douglas Argyll Robertson 


Sir Thomas Smith Clouston ... 


Robert Willan 

• 715 

David Pitcairn ... 


Matthew Baillie 

• 717 

James Copland ... 

• 717 

Richard Bright ... 

. 718 

Thomas Addison... 

• 7!9 

John Conolly 

. 721 


Charles Murchison 722 

Sir Andrew Clark 723 

Sir David Ferrier ... ... ... 725 

Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton ... ... 726 

William Smoult Playfair 728 

Abraham Colles ... ... ... 730 

Sir Philip Crampton ... ... ... 731 

Sir Dominic John Corrigan ... ... 732 

William Stokes ... 732 

James McGill 735 

John Stephenson ... ... ... 736 

Andrew Holmes ... ... ... ... 736 

William Robertson 736 

William Caldwell 736 

Frederick Le Maitre Grasset 738 

Sir Thomas Anderson Stuart ... ... 739 

Sir Gilbert Blane ... 741 

Thomas Trotter ... ... ... ... 742 

Sir William Burnett ... ... ... 743 

Sir John Richardson ... ... ... 744 

Robert Jackson ... ... ... ... 746 

Henry Marshall 747 

Sir George Ballingall ... ... ... 748 

Sir James McGrigor ... ... ... 750 

Sir Andrew Smith ... ... ... 750 

Sir Thomas Galbraith Logan ... ... 752 

Thomas Alexander ... ... ... 752 

Sir William Mure Muir ... ... ... 754 

Sir Thomas Crawford ... ... ... 754 

Sir William Babtie ... ... ... 755 

Sir William Grant Macpherson... ... 755 

Sir William Alexander Mackinnon ... 756 

James Jameson ... ... ... ... 756 

Sir William Taylor ... ... ... 758 

Sir William Boog Leishman ... ... 758 

Sir George King ... ... ... 761 

George Bidie ... ... ... ... 763 

Sir John McNeill 764 

Sir George C. M. Bird wood ... ... 765 

Sir James Wylie ... ... ... 767 

Sir James Mackintosh ... ... ... 769 

Sir Charles Tupper ... ... ... 773 

James Lind ... ... ... ... 775 

David Livingstone ... ... ... 776 

William Wright ... 777 

Livingstone's Instrument Case... ... 778 

Livingstone's Birthplace ... ... 778 

Thomas Spencer Cobbold ... ... 780 

Timothy Richard Lewis ... ... 780 

Andrew Davidson ... ... ... 781 

Sir William Macgregor ... ... 782 

Sir Patrick Manson ... 784 

Sir James Cantlie ... ... ... 784 

Sir Andrew Balfour ... ... ... 786 


Primitive Operation of Trephining 

1 — Trephined skull of a young woman found near Rothesay, Bute, showing opening In left frontal region; 

2— Skull of modern Australian aborigine, for comparison, showing similar opening made by scraping 
with a sharp flint : 3— Jet necklace, flint chip and fragment of bronze found with Bute skull: 4— Hand- 
made food vessel, urn of clay of Bronze Age. found with Bute skull. 

fi, 3 and 4, from National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland; 
2 from The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum) 

Chapter 1 

Medicine of Primitive Scotland and of the 
Roman Occupation 

It is natural to look for a primitive form of medicine among the earliest inhabitants 
of the country now called Scotland. The Stone Age and the Bronze Age can 
readily be distinguished in the northern part of Britain, prior to the advent of the 
Iron Age upon which the Caledonians had entered when, during the first century 
of the Christian era, they came in contact with the conquering forces of the 
advancing Roman Empire. 

from the Culbin Sands, Morayshire 
(National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 

The primitive people dwelling in the northern part of the island during the The 
Stone Age built great sepulchral monuments in the form of chambered cairns, Stor 
of which many are still extant. 1 They formed finely-polished axes of flint, jadeite 
and other hard stones. Their warfare and their pursuit of animals were 
conducted by means of arrows and spears provided with exquisitely-chipped 
flint heads. Out of the same material they furnished themselves with knives, 
borers, scrapers and other tools. From a consideration of these, it is evident 
that the people possessed a high degree of manual dexterity, although there 
is no means, in the absence of any written records, for ascertaining the extent 
of their knowledge. 

1 Anderson: "Scotland in Pagan Times: The Bronze and Stone Ages," Edinburgh, 1886, p. 229. 



We may assume that the healing art comprised the use of simple remedies 
and applications which experience had shown to be generally useful, and that the 
action of some plants with an obvious effect had been ascertained. As regards 
surgical procedures, the sharp flint knives were admirably adapted for such simple 
and evidently necessary procedures as opening an abscess, and flint scrapers were 
useful to cleanse the surface of the body. 

The operation of trephining for some curative, or supposedly curative, purpose 
was carried out by peoples of the Stone Age in Europe and elsewhere, as is 
clearly evident from numerous skulls which have been found showing trephine 
openings with rounded and healed edges. The trephining operation among 
such peoples seems to have been carried out by a process of scraping the skull 
with a sharp flint. 


found with cinerary urns of the Bronze Age containing cremated human remains, 
at Kettle Farm, Kingskettle, Fife 
(National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 

The During the Bronze Age (from about 2000 B.C.), considerable advance in general 

Bronze Age cu i r ure was made. 1 The people lived in scattered circular huts constructed with 
a low stone wall and central roof-pole covered over with beams and thatch. 2 

To this period belong the sepulchral monuments formed of circles and lines 
of tall standing stones which, in many places, constitute a prominent feature in 
the landscape. 3 Many of these stone circles have been found to mark what were 
burial places of families or tribes. In some instances they may commemorate 
the resting-place of the slain after a great battle. It is probable that they became 
later places of worship for the family or clan. 4 In some of these, skeletons are 
found buried in the earth ; in other cases, enclosed in a short cist formed of stone 
slabs ; while many burials have been carried out after cremation, and the ashes 
are found enclosed in earthenware urns which often show a high degree of decorative 
art by tool-marking and finger and nail impressions. Flint arrow-heads, showing 
traces of fire, are frequently found among these ashes, indicating how the person, 
whose body has been burnt, had met his death. 

1 Anderson : " Scotland in Pagan Times : The Bronze and Stone Ages," Edinburgh, 1886, p. 94. 

2 Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. XLVIII., p. 373 ; and Vol. LXI., p. 269. 

3 Anderson : " Scotland in Pagan Times : The Bronze and Stone Ages," Edinburgh, 1886, p. 136. 

4 Kendrick : " The Druids," London, 1927, p. 191. 


2 7 

The remains are frequently associated with articles of grave goods. These 
burials are totally destitute of iron, but often contain cutting instruments of bronze, 
as well as large numbers of gold ornaments, earrings, necklets, arm-rings and lunulae, 
elegantly fashioned. This epoch in Scotland corresponded to the age of gold 
celebrated by the ancient poets ; for the people who generously deposited large 
numbers of these ornaments with the remains of their dead must have been able 
to obtain gold in large quantities, either from some now unknown native source 
or by bartering the fruits of their labour for that of other people. 

Among the implements associated with this period are symmetrically-cast 
halberts, knives, spear-heads, broad-bladed daggers, shields, various tools and 
finely-tempered swords, formed from an alloy of tin and copper. Like the ancient 
Egyptians who, by a process of hammering, rendered their copper tools hard enough 

bronze Age razor blade 

from Musselburgh 
(National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 

to incise granite, the Bronze Age people in Scotland had discovered the art of 
causing these tools to take a sharp cutting edge. Admirably-shaped bronze tools 
for work in wood — such as chisels, gouges, planes, saws, etc. — have also been 
unearthed. Arrow-heads made of flint, which had been brought to great 
perfection in the Stone Age, were still universally used. 

Flint knives were also found in this epoch, long after the knowledge of bronze had 
become general, and, as with other peoples of similar development, they were still 
probably used for purposes of ritual, such as sacrifices, or operations on the body. 

A skull of the Bronze Age, which was found near Rothesay, in the Island 
of Bute, with an urn and necklace of jet, is preserved in the National Museum 
of Antiquities at Edinburgh. The skull has a trephine opening with bevelled Trephining 
edge, evidently formed by a process of scraping, presumably with a flint instrument. 
The bone shows evidence of healing, but the opening is surrounded by a ridge 
which has been caused by subsequent inflammation. The skull is that of a 
young woman. 1 

Frequent examples have been found of a thin-bladed bronze instrument, 
apparently a razor, 2 which was perfectly adapted for surgical purposes. Certain 
bronze tools would also have been useful for the extraction of barbed arrow-heads. 
It is natural to conclude that, like the Egyptians of the 5th Dynasty at a similar 

1 See Parry : Journal of the British Archieological Association, March, 1916. 

2 Anderson : " Scotland in Pagan Times : The Bronze and Stone Ages," Edinburgh, 1886, p. 29. 




Iron Age 

developmental stage, the people inhabiting Scotland in the Bronze Age possessed 
the ability to treat fractured limbs by means of splints, although the climate of 
Scotland has not allowed the preservation of these as in the case of Egyptian burials. 

Of the wounds which could be inflicted in battle, a striking example is recorded 
by Waterston. A short cist of the Bronze Age, discovered near Boarhills, Fifeshire, 
contained the skeleton of a man about sixty years old, five feet six inches in 
height, with round head, and a left hip which had been injured in youth. The bone 

bronze Age Battle Wound 
of Vertebrae 

Femur and Tibia of Bronze Age 
showing osteoarthritis 
(Originals in Museum of Professor Stockman, Glasgow) 

showed signs of chronic periostitis, a condition which was frequent in skeletons of 
the period. The teeth were much worn, showing that the food had been gritty 
and coarse. He had received two fatal wounds, one a crushing blow on the right 
side of the head, and the other a stroke from a sharp-edged weapon, such as an axe, 
which had missed the head but sheared obliquely into the cervical vertebrae, chipping 
off increasing portions of the spines from the second to the seventh cervical vertebras, 
and the whole covering of the spinal cord from the upper three thoracic vertebras. 1 

Osteo-arthritis is very common in the skeletons of these pre-historic people, as it is in 
the bones of ancient Egyptian skeletons from a similar stage of cultural development. 2 

In the succeeding Age of Iron, weapons, of which the most important was a long, 
heavy sword, were fashioned of this material. The people now lived in huts, collected 

1 Waterston : Proceedings of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. LXI., p. 30. 

2 Stockman : " Rheumatism and Arthritis," Edinburgh, 1920, p. 118. 



for protection on the top of some precipitous hill, or upon platforms supported on 
piles embedded in the bottom of some surrounding lake. Warfare took the 
place of barter, and the healing of wounds naturally increased in importance. This 
age in Scotland began with that wandering of the peoples, which, in the east of 
Europe, corresponded to the Dorian invasion of Greece. 

The history of Northern Britain begins when the Romans first came in contact 
with the Caledonians, Albiones, or Picts, 1 in the latter half of the 1st century 
of the Christian era. About 83 a.d. the Roman general Agricola 2 fortified 
the country between the Firths of Clyde and Forth, penetrated with his fleet into 
the estuary of the Tay, and gained a decisive victory over the Caledonians under 
Galgacus in Strathearn. 

On this occasion, prior to the battle, the Caledonian tribes consecrated their Druidic 
confederacy by sacrifices. Such sacrifices are mentioned by Pliny as having been medicin 
carried out by the Druids, who were the " medicine men " (genus vatum medi- 
corumque), 3 in the southern part of the island. It is reasonable to conclude that 
the Druids, who constituted a great brotherhood both in Britain and Gaul, with 
annual meetings in the latter country, exercised similar functions among the 
northern tribes. At a later date, St. Columba, in his visits to the pagan 
Pictish king, had trouble on various occasions with the Druids, this being 
the word in common use by the early Christian Scottish writers to designate 
the pagan " medicine men." 

More, than 20 years before Agricola's victory, the head-quarters of the 
Druids in Britain had been destroyed by Suetonius Paulinus. The Druids made 
their last stand in Anglesey, where, with hands uplifted, clad in white, they invoked 
the gods and poured forth horrible imprecations on the Roman troops, inspiring 
these for a time with awe and terror. The religious groves, in which the Druids 
had been wont to sacrifice their prisoners upon the altars of their gods, and to 
inspect their entrails for divination, were destroyed. 4 

Edicts against the Druids and magic had been issued by several Roman 
emperors, but the Picts of the north were not influenced by these. We may 
assume that, whether the priests of the Caledonians are to be called Druids or by 
some other name, the place they occupied in society and the rites they carried out 
were much the same as those in the southern portion of the island. Caesar states 
that in Gaul all important persons belonged to one of two orders — either the Druids 
or the Knights. The Druids conducted sacrifices, interpreted religion, determined 
controversies and were free from military service. They held the view that souls 
after death passed from one body to another. They gave instruction regarding 
the stars and their motion, the nature of things, and the power of the gods. 5 
Pliny, who wrote his "Natural History " at the time with which we are dealing, gives 
some account of the medicines and magical observances they used, and says that 

1 Skene : " The Highlanders of Scotland," London, 1836, p. 6. 

2 Tacitus : " Agricola," Ch. XXII. 

3 Pliny : " Natural History," Bk. XXX., Sect. r3. 

4 Tacitus : " Annals," Bk. XIV., Sect. 30. 

s Caesar : " Dc Bello Gallico," Bk. VI., 13, 14, 16. 



from the similarity of their practices to those of eastern peoples, the Druids of 
Britain might almost seem to have been the first to communicate them to the 
people of Persia. 1 

The plant samolus (probably water pimpernel) was used by them as a 
preservative against infectious maladies in cattle. The person who gathered 
it was enjoined to do so with the left hand, to be careful not to look behind him, 
and to lay it in the troughs from which the cattle drank. 

Pliny also speaks of the use made by the Druids of serpents' eggs as amulets, 
and he mentions the twining together of snakes which takes place in summer time, 
with the formation around their bodies of viscous slime which forms into rings. 
The legend of the serpent endured persistently in Gaelic literature and tradition. 
Knotted and entwined serpents formed the basis for one of the most striking features 
of Celtic decoration, which is seen constantly on sculptured Scottish stones and 
in illuminated manuscripts. 

Great importance was attached to serpents' brew, which, granted that it was 
made of the proper serpent, was supposed to confer upon the person who tasted it 
universal knowledge. This is how Farquhar Leech (the healer), according to some 
Highland stories, is supposed to have got his knowledge of medicine. 2 " Snakes' 
eggs " among the highlanders of a later date were commonly held to be of great 
value, the egg being a bead of coloured stone or glass derived probably from some 
ancient grave. It has been suggested by Wilson that these supposed serpents' 
eggs were charms introduced as amulets among the early Pictish people by traders 
from the east. 3 Kendrick suggests that the snake-stone was a fossil ammonite. 4 

The plant selago (probably club moss) was used by the Druids as a preservative 
against accidents, and the smoke of it was considered good for maladies of the 
eyes. It was gathered without the use of iron by the right hand passed through 
the left sleeve of the tunic, as though the gatherer were performing some furtive 
act. The clothing of the gatherer, too, had to be white, the feet bare and washed, 
and a sacrifice of bread and wine had to be made before the plant was collected. 
It was to be carried also in a new napkin. 5 

The Druids of Britain held nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the 
oak tree which bore it. Their groves were formed of oak trees, and branches of 
this wood were employed in their religious rites. When the mistletoe was found 
upon the oak it was supposed to be sent direct from heaven, and was gathered 
with solemn rites upon the fifth day of the moon. The ceremony was preceded 
by a sacrifice of two white bulls. The priest cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle, 
and it was caught in a white cloak by others. Victims were also sacrificed. The 
mistletoe taken in drink was supposed to impart fertility, and to be useful as an 
antidote against all poisons. 6 

1 Pliny : " Natural History," Bk. XXX., Sect. 4. 

a Campbell : " Popular Tales of the West Highlands," Edinburgh, i860, Vol. II., p. 362. 
a Wilson : " Prehistoric Annals of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1851, p. 305. 

4 Kendrick : " The Druids," London, 1927, p. 127. 

5 Pliny : " Natural History," Bk. XXIV., Sect. 62. 
« Pliny : Op. cit., Bk. XVI., Sect. 95. 



The general condition of primitive medicine in Scotland, at all events in Tl }fl 
Dalriada (Argyll), which was largely populated by immigrants from Ireland, may 
be inferred from the records of ancient medicine in Ireland. The ancient Irish 
name for a physician was liaig, which is radically the same as the old English word 
leech. 1 Josina, the ninth legendary king of Scotland, who is reputed to have lived 
in the 2nd century B.C., was educated in Ireland by the native physicians, and 
is said to have composed a treatise on the virtues and power of herbs. Buchanan 
says that " he held Physicians in very high Esteem ; because, when he was banished 
with his Father into Ireland, they had been his great Intimates. Whereupon the 
rest of the Nobility, complying with the Humour of the King, it came to pass that 
for many Ages there was scarce a Nobleman or Gentleman in Scotland, which had 
not the Skill to cure Wounds." 2 

The kings and great families of Ireland appear to have had hereditary 
physicians attached to them in the same way as in Scotland, and rules for 
practice in regard to fees, as well as fines for want of skill or of success, were laid 
down in the Brehon Laws. Records exist of the presence of leeches at battles in 
the 3rd century a.d. There are indications, at all events by the 7th 
century a.d., that the Irish physicians were specially skilled in medical botany, 
that hospitals for the reception of the sick existed, that cupping and other 
simple operations were commonly practised ; and there is even a record that 
after the battle of Moyrath in 637 a.d., a young chief, Cennfaelad, whose skull 
was fractured by the blow of a sword, was trephined, had a portion of the 
skull and brain removed, and made so complete a recovery that he became a great 
scholar and jurist. 3 The early Irish physicians were a subordinate class of Druids. 4 

Many of the heathen observances have doubtless come down in the medical 
folk-lore still to be found in country places and recorded in the popular medical 
works of the 18th century, including the sacrifice of different animals for various 
maladies, the administration of blood, bile and excrements as remedies, the 
wearing of coral necklaces, purification by dew and by fire at the feast of 
Beltane in May, etc. 

Several of the standing stones in the centre and north-east of Scotland, erected Pictish 
by the Picts, are incised with symbols, among which the serpent frequently appears. 
Another constantly recurring symbol is the eye, or a pair of eyes, and various 
animals are vigorously represented. Many of these are repeated, from the 
7th century onwards, in the monuments erected by the early Christian church. 
It would perhaps be fanciful to see in the symbols of the serpent and the eye 
a connection with the serpent of Asklepios and the eye of Horus, but Pliny's 
remark in the 1st century a.d. upon this subject is significant : " to such a 
degree are nations throughout the whole world, totally different as they are and 
quite unknown to one another, in accord upon this one point." 5 

1 Joyce : " A Social History of Ancient Ireland," London, 1903, Vol. I., p. 597. 

2 Buchanan : " History of Scotland," Bk. IV. 

3 Joyce : " A Social History of Ancient Ireland," London, 1903, Vol. I., p. 620. 

4 Simpson : " The Historical St. Columba," Aberdeen, 1927, p. 44. 
s Pliny : " Natural History," Bk. XXX., Sect. 4. 




Physique of 
the Picts 

Tattooing was an important operation among the primitive northern peoples. 
The Picts occupying Scotland north of the Firth of Forth were celebrated by- 
ancient writers for the manner in which, like the Goths, they decorated their 
bodies with various figures. These were tattooed with cinnabar and other 
pigments by means of sharp iron instruments. 1 According to Giraldus Cambrensis, 
the figures consisted of the scars produced by means of cauteries, 2 and Isidorus 
Hispaniensis speaks of the figures as produced by the minute punctures of a 
needle treated with the juice expressed from a native plant. 3 As to the 
subjects represented, these included 
various objects, but especially the 
forms of animals. 4 

The skilful and vigorous manner 
in which the Picts portrayed animals, 
even in stone, can be seen on 
numerous monoliths which are found 
scattered throughout Pictland. 
These were apparently memorials 
marking the burial place of some 
family or chieftain, and it is reason- 
able to suppose that the sculptured 
objects are similar to those which 
in life were tattooed upon the bodies 
of the persons whom the stones 

The hardy character of the 
Picts at the beginning of the 3rd 
century a.d. is described by 
Herodian, a contemporary Greek 
writer. In speaking of the cam- 
paign instituted by the Emperor 
Septimius Severus in 208 a.d., when 
this emperor, alarmed by the in- 
cursions of the northern people into 
Roman Britain, determined to con- 
quer the part of the island north of 
the wall, Herodian says that 

" his first care was to throw bridges across the morasses that his soldiers 
might be able to pursue the enemy over the dangerous places and have the 
opportunity of fighting on firm ground, for as a great part of the island is 
frequently overflowed by the tides, these constant inundations make the 

From Inverurie : 

Animal Portraiture 
a red granite slab four feet high 

1 "Chronicles of the Picts and Scots," Edit, by Skene, Edinburgh, 1867, p. 3. 

2 Giraldus Cambrensis : " De Instructione Principum," 1214, in "Chronicles of the Picts and Scots,' 

Edinburgh, 1867, p. 163. 

3 Skene : " The Highlanders of Scotland," London, 1836, p. 395. 

4 Herodian : Hist., Lib. III., Sect. 14, In Severe 

Edit, by Skene, 



country full of lakes and marshes. In these the barbarians swim or wade 
through them up to the middle, regardless of mud or dirt, as they always go 
almost naked. For they are ignorant of the use of clothes, and only cover 
their necks and stomachs with plates of iron, which they regard as an ornament 
and sign of wealth, and are as proud of them as other barbarians are of gold. 
They also burn into their bodies pictures like many coloured animals of all 
sorts (Tot Si crojjuaTa crifovTat ypa^ats itoikIXxov {wojv 7ravTo8a.7rojv et/coatv)- 
This is one principal reason for their wearing no clothes, because they are 
loth to hide the fine paintings on their bodies, but they are a very warlike and 
fierce people, armed only with a narrow shield and spear and a sword hanging 
by their naked bodies, unacquainted with the use of breast-plates and helmets, 
which they think would be an obstruction to wading through the lakes and 
marshes of their country. These perpetually send up thick vapours which 
condense the air and make it always foggy." 1 

Dion Cassius, another contemporary writer, gives a similar picture of the 
Caledonians, and describes them as having small swift horses, running with great 
speed on foot, armed with a shield, short spear and dirk, capable of sustaining 
great fatigue and exposure, and able to subsist without hunger or thirst on a minute 
quantity of food. Although Severus continued his march throughout Scotland, 
he was unable to meet the Caledonians in open fight, but had finally to retreat 
behind the wall, having lost, by ambushes and the rigours of the climate, some 
50,000 men. 2 

Compared with the superstitious practices of the native tribes, the medicine Roman 

and surgery available for the Roman army and for those within the bounds of the me dicm 
t. t - i 1 ■ ■ 1 ., . T and sur 

Roman impenum, show to the modern mind a striking contrast. In the first 

century of the Christian era the Roman troops had an ordinary medical officer 

for each cohort of 600 men, with higher medical officers for the legion. 

The wounded received first-aid, and were transported on waggons to military 

hospitals in the standing camps. Their wounds were dressed with astringent 

and antiseptic salves, in which salts of copper formed an active ingredient. 

Roman surgeons possessed a great array of finely-fashioned instruments with 
which they could skilfully operate and extract arrows and other missiles, and 
collections of these instruments have been found in many sites of settlements 
throughout the Roman empire. The surgeons operated with steel-bladed knives, 
performed amputations when necessary as high as the knee and elbow, and 
afterwards provided the patient with artificial limbs. In their operations, 
bleeding was arrested with the help of artery forceps and ligatures, and the edges 
of the wounds were carefully stitched together. Complicated operations, such as 
those for hernia and cataract, were regularly performed, apparently with 
excellent results. 3 

1 Herqdian : Hist., Lib. III., Sect. 14, In Severo. 
• Dion Cassius : " Historia; Romana?," Lib. LXXVII., Severus. 
3 See generally, A. Cornelius Celsus : " De Re Medica " ; also Milne : 
Oxford, 1907. 

" Surgical Instruments in Graco-Roman Times," 




A small collection of Roman surgical instruments, formerly in the possession 
of Clerk of Penicuik, is now shown in the National Museum of Antiquities at 
Edinburgh. Unfortunately, the name of the locality where these were found 
has not been preserved. 
The instruments include 
a knife handle of the 
usual Roman surgical 
form, of which the steel 
blade has perished, two 
pairs of simple forceps, 
probes, cauteries and a 

Among the treasure 
discovered at Traprain 
Law in 1915, which was 
apparently loot of the 
3rd or 4th century 
derived from Gaul or 
Southern Britain, is in- 
cluded a medicine spoon 
with attachments for two small instruments on the handle. This has apparently 
been carefully preserved and presumably used by its Scottish possessors. 

A Roman medicine stamp, found at Tranent in East Lothian, not far from 
the Roman settlement at Inveresk, is also shown in the National Museum of 
Antiquities. It was discovered among the debris of an old Roman house. The 
stamp is a flat piece of green steatite, some two-and-a-half inches in length, with 

Medicine Spoon from Traprain Law 

(National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 


Roman Oculist's Stamp 
from Tranent, East Lothian 
(National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 

inscriptions cut on the two sides. The inscriptions are reversed so that when 
stamped upon wax they would show in their proper form. The two inscriptions, 
when separated into the individual words composing them, read as follows : — 



The first of these is the evodes (aromatic application) of Lucius Vallatinus for 
cicatrices and granulations ; the second is the mild crocodes (collyrium of crocus) 
of Lucius Vallatinus for affections of the eyes. Lucius Vallatinus was apparently 
an oculist practising in the municipium of Inveresk during the Roman occupation. 

1 See Simpson : " Archa;ological Essays," Edinburgh, 1872, Vol. II., p. 239. 



A memorial of medical practice among the troops and Roman colonists 
living on the frontier of Caledonia, at the beginning of the 3rd century a.d., 
is found in a commemorative tablet which was discovered about the year 1840 
at Housesteads in Northumberland, the ancient permanent camp of Borcovicus, 
which was one of the principal stations on the wall erected by the Emperor 
Hadrian from the Tyne to the Sol way. The tablet, according to the inscription 
upon it, was raised by the soldiers of the first Tungrian cohort to the memory 
of Anicius Ingenuus, their medicus ordinarius, who died on military service at 
the age of 25. 

The Tungrians had distinguished themselves in 84 a.d. under Agricola at the 
battle of Mons Grampius. 1 The cohort was afterwards stationed at Castlecary 
in West Lothian, where the soldiers constructed a mile of the wall between the 
Forth and Clyde. 2 Subsequently it was stationed at Cramond, a suburb of modern 
Edinburgh, where the soldiers raised an altar. 3 

The inscription, with its extension and translation, reads as follows : — 






To the gods of the shades below and to Anicius Ingenuus, Physician-in-Ordinary to the 
first cohort of the Tungrians. He lived twenty-five years. 

Another memorial tablet, erected by his comrades to C. Acillobassus, a medical 
officer who was in receipt of double pay for seniority or special services, is preserved 
in the National Museum of Antiquities. This is a tablet, io| inches by 9 inches 
in size, which belonged to Sir J. Y. Simpson, and was by him presented to the 
museum, but unfortunately there is no record as to the place where it was found. 
It bears the inscription : — 





To the gods of the shades below and to Caius Acillobassus, Medical Officer on double pay 
(erected bv) his comrades. 

1 Tacitus : " Agricola," Ch. XXXVI. 

2 Stuart : " Caledonia Romana," Edinburgh, 1845, p. 3.(0. 

3 Horsley : " Britannia Romana," London, 173-2, P- 204. 

4 See Simpson: " Archaeological F.ssays," Edinburgh, 1872, Vol. II., p. 213. 



A large number of the drugs used in modern times were then employed in 
prescriptions, which seem generally reasonable, although sometimes fantastic 
and superstitious. 

Roman The remedies used by the Romans at this time may be gathered from numerous 

remedies wr j te rs, such as Celsus, Pliny and Scribonius Largus. Scribonius Largus is of 
special interest, as he accompanied the expedition of the Emperor Claudius to 
Britain in 43 a.d. in the position of a military medical officer. 1 His work 
on the compounding of medicines, which was composed as he was leaving Rome, 
was probably written for the purposes of this expedition. The book contains 
271 prescriptions for the preparation of remedies against various complaints — some 
simple, some complicated. Their high reputation is indicated by the fact that 
Galen, a century and a half later, includes many of them among the prescriptions 
given in his works. 

Such substances are mentioned as acacia, aconite, aloes, anise, belladonna, 
cardamoms, cedar -wood oil, costus, crocus, dill, gentian, ginger, iris, juniper, linseed, 
liquorice, male-fern root, mistletoe, mustard, myrrh, olive oil, opium, pepper, 
rose, rosemary, resin, rue, santonica, squills, turpentine, valerian, vinegar and 
yeast. Among mineral remedies are alum, chalk, copper salts, preparations of 
lead, iron, sal ammoniac, silver salts, soda and sulphur. Among the animal remedies 
are included blood, castor, cantharides, white of egg, fat, hartshorn, millipedes, 
ox bile and wax. 2 

Since the southern part of the present Scotland to the fortified line between 
the Firths of Forth and Clyde was, about 83 a.d., firmly held by the Romans, this 
type of medicine was available for the people of Lothian, and many of its traditions 
no doubt remained in southern Scotland after the Romans had passed away. 
It is not likely, however, that the Picts of the north, who fell into the hands of the 
Romans as severely wounded, and therefore useless prisoners, received more 
charity from their conquerors than the coup de grace, and in this connection the 
remark of Galgacus to his troops is significant : " they have made the world a 
solitude and call it peace." 

After the first century of the Christian era it is not surprising to find traces 
of foreign medicine or of exotic religious beliefs in the remotest corners of the 
Empire. Medicine and religion were carried by the recruits to the frontier guards 
throughout the length and breadth of the Empire, from Syria to Caledonia and 
from Germany to Africa. 

Medicine in the southern part of Scotland has always remained more 
" orthodox " than elsewhere, and this may be attributed perhaps to the survival 
of Roman tradition among the descendants of the legionaries, and of the native 
population who had come under Roman influence. 

1 " Die Rezeptc des Scribonius Largus," Srhoiiack, Jena, 1913, p. 2. 

2 Comrie : " Scribonius Largus, De Compositione Medicamentorum," Medical Life, April, 1922. 



Camden, writing in the 16th century concerning the Roman Wall in 
Cumberland, says on the matter : — 

" I purposely omit the vulgar reports about this wall, but cannot conceal 
from the reader this circumstance, which I had from persons of credit. 
A fixed tradition remains in the neighbours, that the Roman garrisons on 
the borders planted here up and down for their own use, many plants good 
for curing wounds. Hence some pretenders to surgery in Scotland resort 
here every summer to collect plants, whose virtues they have learned by some 
practice, and extoll them as of sovereign efficacy." 1 

1 Camden : " Britannia," trans, by Gough, London, 1780, Vol. III., p. 214. 

Map of Britain in 6 26 a.d. 
to show social connections of southern Scotland 
(After Green) 

Chapter 11 

Medicine of the Early Christian and Saxon Period 

Although the Roman frontier had been withdrawn southwards to the line 
from Tyne to Solway before Christianity was adopted by Constantine as the 
official religion of the Empire, there were many missionaries and converts to this 
faith in the region between the southern line and that of the Forth and Clyde. 
St. Ninian, the apostle of the northern Britons and the Picts, had founded 
the first Christian settlement at Whithorn in Galloway in 397 a.d., while 
southern Britain was still a Roman province. 1 These Christianised Picts, Scots 
and Britons probably preserved much medical as well as religious tradition. 

St. Columba (521-597), and some of the more learned Culdee missionaries, Culdee 
in addition to a knowledge of Christian doctrine which they introduced to western medlcn 
Scotland, undoubtedly possessed some acquaintance with the medical lore of the 
ancients, which was to be found among manuscripts in the libraries of the wealthier 
religious houses of other countries. Legends of the early saints indicate that some 
of their influence was due to their powers of healing, although, in the popular 
belief of that day, these powers are usually credited with a supernatural or 
miraculous origin. 

The Monastery of Iona, founded by St. Columba in 563 a.d., as described by 
incidental references in Adamnan's life of the saint, was a primitive institution 
where the brethren lived in individual cells built of wood round a little court. 
The church and monastic buildings were surrounded by a wall, and there were 
a kiln, a barn, mill and refectory in which the daily tasks and social intercourse 
of the monks were carried out. The settlement included a hospitium built of 
wood and wattle, where guests of the monastery and the sick who visited it were 
entertained and treated by simple means.- 

Laisran Mocumoie, 3 a holy man and a gardener (hortulanus), was brought 
from Ireland at the command of St. Columba, and spent the remainder of his days 
in the monastery at Iona. He presumably grew the herbs from which were prepared 
the physical means of healing (medicamenta carnalia) that were used by the monks. 
On one occasion a pilgrim came to the monastery and asked a cure for a disease 
of his body. St. Columba's comment was characteristic, that it would have been 
better for him to have true penance for his sins, for at the close of the week he 
would die. Nevertheless, he was given the remedies he had asked and departed 
quickly, but before the end of the week, according to the prophecy of the saint, 
he was dead. 4 

1 Simpson : " The Historical St. Columba," Aberdeen, 1927, p. 2. 
* Skene : " Celtic Scotland," Edinburgh, 1887, Vol. II., p. 97. 

3 Adamnan : " Life of St. Columba," Edit, by Reeves (Historians of Scotland Series), Edinburgh, 1874, Lib. I., Cap. XII. 

4 Adamnan : Op. cit., Lib. I., Cap. XXI. 




Cures by 
St. Columb.i 

There is no mention, apart from spiritual means, of the remedies employed 
in healing, but the simple kind of medicines used may be inferred from the plants 
which were contained in the garden of the Monastery of St. Gall. 

Each monastery of the early church possessed, in addition to its library 
containing copies of Latin translations of ancient books, mainly devotional, 
and sometimes medical, a physic garden where simples were cultivated, and an 
infirmary or hospitium, or both, where the sick were treated and guests entertained. 
The kind of herbs used by the early monks in preparing remedies may be learned 
from the list of those grown in the 9th century at the monastery founded by 
St. Gall, a Scottish or Irish hermit who, 
in 614 a.d., built a cell in the thick forest 
which then covered the Swiss canton that 
now bears his name. 


it/" m 



ir 1 


hi m 
■Co V 


X\\<.ii\(\0 m^iltcv \y(\uf 


v ' I ' d 

The medicinal plants were rose, bean, 
savory, costus, hedge mustard, cumin, 
fennel, lybisticum, lily, sage, rue, gladiola, 
pennyroyal, mint, rosemary and fenugreek. 
Alongside the garden was a small building 
which contained a house for the medicus, 
a room for those who were very sick 
(valde infirmi), and a dispensary where 
the remedies were kept. A plan of the 
little garden and building is given in a 
chart of the monastery buildings prepared 
by a monk in the year 820 a.d. 1 

Healing-stones, or amulets, had been 
a favourite method of cure among the 
pagan peoples of Scotland, and these, as 
well as many other heathen devices, were 
adopted by the teachers of Christianity, 
who gave to them a Christian significance. 

Thus, on one occasion, St. Columba 
picked from the river Ness a white stone, 
by which he said God would effect the 
cure of many diseases. This stone he sent 
by two of his disciples to Brude, the pagan 
king of the Picts, who had requested him 
to cure his foster-father, Broichan the Druid, then lying in a dying state. The 
stone was immersed in water, when, contrary to the laws of nature, it floated on 
the water like a nut or apple and could not be submerged. Broichan drank of 
the water in which the stone was floating, and immediately recovered perfect health 
and soundness of body. The stone was afterwards preserved among the treasures 


] Iflt'tml'l-J 

] I r.iminTl 




fold <y 

I fOftg 

Plan of Hospital and Physic Garden 
at the monastery of st. gall 

From a chart of the 9th century 

1 Keller: " Bauriss des Klosters St. ('.alien vom Jahr 820," Zurich, 1.S44. 



of the king, retained its miraculous property of floating in water and, as the 
chronicler says : " through the mercy of God, effected the cure of sundry diseases." 1 
The stone was possibly a piece of ambergris. 

Many other cures are recorded of this saint. Bleeding from the nose of 
Lugneus Mocumin was cured when the saint pressed this patient's nose with his 
fingers. An epidemic of ulcers, supposed to be due to pestilential rain, was stayed 
when the sufferers were sprinkled with water in which bread, blessed by St. Columba, 
had been dipped. 2 The broken thigh of a saintly virgin, Maugina, was similarly 
healed by water in which blessed bread had been dipped, although it is probable 
that some other physical means were also employed. Many instances are recorded 
in which the saint by his powers saved various disciples from death, stayed a 
plague in the land of the Picts and performed other wonders. A spring in the 
country of the Picts, which had been blessed by St. Columba, and in which his 
hands and feet had been washed, was afterwards much visited by the sick, whose 
diseases it cured. 

In early Scotland, one of the favourite curative agents was found in springs. Healing 
The well, which was blessed by St. Columba, had previously been a place of resort wells 
by the pagan Picts, who had dreaded and worshipped a malignant spirit contained 
in its waters. The early Christian fathers in a similar way converted many other 
springs to the purposes of the Christian faith. It was natural, too, that an early 
Christian missionary to the Picts should establish his solitary cell beside a spring ; 
and these springs, in various parts of the country, became therefore identified with 
the names of special saints. In some instances the springs contained medicinal 
substances ; in the case of others the spring discharged pure water. From the 
earliest times in many places sick people betook themselves, for the purpose of 
being healed, to these springs, rivulets and pools, to which a saintly character 
was attached. 3 

To this class of wells belong the following : 4 The Well of St. Marnoch, a 
7th century missionary, was venerated at Aberchirder in Banffshire. Another 
Culdee of the same century, St. Donan, had a well in the parish of Kildonan, 
Sutherland, where he preached Christianity, and another in the island of Eigg, 
where the saint was murdered. St. Mungo, or Kentigern, a missionary in 
Strathclyde, had a well and spring beside the Molendinar, below the spot where 
Glasgow Cathedral stands, in which he bathed and which was later consecrated 
to his memory. Various traditions in regard to him are still commemorated 
in the arms of the city of Glasgow. 

At Holy Island, guarding Lamlash Bay, was a cave inhabited by the 
hermit Molio, and in its neighbourhood is a holy well for many centuries reckoned 
efficacious in the cure of disease. St. Fillan, the "leper," was a teacher of the 
6th century of peculiar sanctity, specially celebrated in the cure of disease. 

1 Adamnan : "Life of St. Columba," Edit, by Reeves (Historians of Scotland Series), Edinburgh, 1874, Lib. II., 

Cap. XXXIV. 
■ Adamnan : Op. cit., Lib. II., Cap. IV. 

» Mackinlay : " Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs," Glasgow, 1893, p. 24. 
« Mackinlay : Op. cit., p. 72- 

St. Trid uana's or St. Margaret's Well 
The well-house was removed about 1860 from its original site at Restalrig to its 
present position south of Holyrood, where it covers another sainted spring, known 
as St. David's or the Rood Well 



His spring at the foot of Dunfillan Hill, near Comrie in Perthshire, was much 
frequented even up to the 18th century, while to repose in his seat on the hill 
was regarded as a cure for rheumatism. He is not to be confounded with 
the other St. Fillan, of Glendochart, whose pool, bell and crozier also had 
miraculous properties. 

Most parishes, indeed, in early days in Scotland were possessed of one or 
more of these holy pools or wells, to which resort was more or less commonly made 
for their healing virtues down to quite recent times. A more striking instance 
could hardly be given of the persistence of an ancient belief through all the changes 
in the form of religion and all phases of advancing intelligence and rationalism. 

The following list of the principal holy wells in Scotland is given by Principal 
Anderson 1 : — St. Adamnan's at Dull and Forglen ; St. Aidan's at Menmuir, ^ol^well 
famed for the cure of cutaneous diseases, and St. Aidan's at Fearn ; 
St. Baldred's well and pool at Prestonkirk ; St. Bride's wells at Dunsyre and at 
Bcith ; St. Comb's well at Menmuir; St. Column's at Kiltearn ; St. Caran's at 
Drumlithie ; St. Columba's in Eilan na Naoimh and in Eigg ; St. Fechin's 
or St. Vigean's at Grange of Conon in Forfarshire ; St. Devenick's at 
Mcthlick ; St. Donan's in Eigg ; St. Ethan's at Burghead ; St. Fergus's 
at Glammis ; St. Fillan's at Struan, St. Fillans, Largs, etc. ; St. Mair's at 
Bcith ; St. Irnie's at Kilrenny ; St. Mungo's (Kentigern's) at Penicuik and 
Peebles ; St. Maelrubha's on Innis Maree, famed for the cure of insanity ; 
St. Marnock's at Aberchirder ; St. Mirrin's at Kilsyth ; St. Medan's at Airlie ; 
St. Modan's at Ardchattan ; St. Moluag's at Mortlach ; St. Muriel's at 
Rathmuriell in the Garioch ; St. Natulan's at Old Meldrum ; St. Ninian's at 
Lamington, Arbroath, Stirling, etc. ; St. Patrick's at Muthil ; St. Ronan's 
at the Butt of Lewis, famed for the cure of insanity ; St. Serf's at 
Monzievard, frequented for the cure of various diseases ; St. Wallach's in 
the parish of Glass, Aberdeenshire, till lately resorted to as a place of 

One of the most famous wells was that of St. Triduana, at Restalrig, 
near Edinburgh. St. Triduana was a recluse of the primitive church, whose 
tomb after her death became a shrine for pilgrims afflicted with eye diseases. 
In early life, her beauty had attracted a Pictish chief from whom she fled, and, 
being pursued by his emissaries, she plucked out her eyes and sent them to him 
impaled upon a thorn, as they had been the cause of his unwelcome attentions. 

For many centuries the well at Restalrig, afterwards called 
St. Margaret's Well, was the resort of those who, in the words of 
Sir David Lindsay, went to " St. Trid well to mend their ene." 
So hard does tradition die that even now (1927) people with eye disorders 
frequently come with bottles to collect the water, despite the fact that 
the ancient welbhouse has been removed to another spring (St. David's or 
The Rood Well) about a mile distant, close to Holyrood. 

1 Anderson : " Scotland in Early Christian Times," Edinburgh, 1881, p. 193. 

4 6 


Bells Of 


Various relics of saints in Scotland, as in other countries, formed an important 
set of objects associated with healing. The Celtic church in Scotland and in 
Ireland was, however, notable for a type of relic not found elsewhere in the 
Christian church. This consisted in the enshrinement of the bell which had 
belonged to a particular saint. The bronze bells still preserved in Scotland 
belonged to St. Fillan of Glendochart, to 
St. Adamnan or Eunan, long preserved at Insh, 
and to St. Finan, which lay on a tombstone on 
Finan's Isle in Loch Shiel. 

At the shrine of St. Fillan (an 8th century 
abbot and recluse), near Tyndrum, a form 
of treatment was used, especially for lunacy, 
which resembled the incubation in the temples 
of Asklepios. The mentally afflicted person, 
after being dipped in a sacred pool, was bound 
and laid on the floor of the church or in a stone 
coffin overnight, the bronze bell of St. Fillan, 
a sacred relic, being placed beside him or on 
his head. If in the morning he was found free 
from his bonds, recovery from the madness 
was likely to take place. Those who recovered 
sometimes related visions that had appeared to 
them in the night. 1 

Various celebrated amulets were also used for mediaeval treatment, 
chiefly by administering to a sick person water in which the relic had been 
immersed. One of the most celebrated of these charms was the Lee Penny, a 

The Bell of St. Fillan 

(Preserved in the National Museum of 
A ntiquities of Scot land ) 

The Lee Penny 

small red stone set in a silver coin, said to have been brought from the 
Holy Land by Sir Simon Lockhart, of Lee, and celebrated as " The Talisman " 
in Sir Walter Scott's novel of that name. This charm was used by drinking of, 

1 Anderson : " Scotland in Karlv Christian Times," Edinburgh, 1881, p. 192. 



or bathing with, water in which it had been dipped three times. Balls 
of rock crystal, one known as the " stone of the standard," possessed by 
the Chief of the clan Donnachie, another known as the stone of Ardvoirlich, 
in the possession of the family of that name, and others belonging to the families 
of Campbell of Glenlyon, Baird of Auchmeddan, and others, have been used 
in a similar manner from very early times. 

The district of Lothian, which included not merely the counties of Linlithgow, Anglian 
Edinburgh and Haddington, that bear the name at the present day, but also J"^ 0 "" 
Roxburgh, Berwick and Upper Tweeddale, formed, with intervals of freedom, from 
the 7th century onward, part of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. About 
the middle of the 10th century, Edinburgh, an important frontier stronghold, was 
captured 1 and afterwards retained by the northern people, who had come to 
be known collectively as the Scots; but it was not until 1018 that Malcolm II. 
extended the territory of Scotland to the river Tweed. Up to the latter date, 
therefore, the southern part of what is now Scotland was permeated by 
Saxon influences in medicine as in other things. 

Bede, the Northumbrian historian, gives an account of the leech Cynifrid, Cynifrid 
who, in 679 a.d., opened an abscess for Aethelthryth, queen and abbess, who had the leec 
taken the veil at Coldingham in Berwickshire. 2 The Saxon leeches were, in 
their early practice, apparently almost wholly restricted to the use of the lancet 
for bleeding and opening abscesses, with, in addition, herbs derived from field 
and garden. They also had great recourse to incantations and charms of all 
sorts, sometimes of a Christian character, at other times apparently from an 
ancient pagan source. 

The story of Cynifrid illustrates several aspects of the early Christian views 
as to disease and healing. The saintly Aethelthryth, or Audrey, attributed the 
trouble in her neck to the fact that, as a young maiden, she had borne on it the 
needless weight of gold and pearl necklaces, and now suffered that she might be 
absolved from the guilt of early levity. After the abscess had been opened and 
much noxious matter let out, the patient was easier for two days, but on the third 
she became worse and was quickly snatched out of the world. 

Sixteen years later it was decided to place her bones in a sarcophagus for 
preservation in the church at Ely, and Cynifrid was present at the exhumation. 
To the wonder of all, the body was found free from corruption, and Cynifrid 
ingeniously explained this by the spiritual idea that though the saint had been 
twice married, she had preserved always a voluntary virginity. The coffin, as he 
recorded, in which the body had been buried, cured infirmities of the eyes in some 
who prayed with their heads resting on the coffin, while the touch of the linen 
wrappings expelled devils from bodies that were possessed. 3 

Egfrid, the second husband of this saint, had important relations to Scotland, 
for in 685 a.d., leading the Northumbrian army to attack the Picts, against the 

1 "Chronicles of the Picts and Scots," Edit, by Skene, Edinburgh, 1867, p. 10. 

* Cockayne : " Saxon Leechdoms " (Master of the Rolls Series), London, 1864, Vol. I., p. xxvi. 

3 Bcdc : " Ecclesiastical History of England," Lib, IV., Cap. XIX. 



advice of St. Cuthbert, he fell into an ambush at Nectansmere or Dunnichen, near 
Forfar, and was slain with most of his forces. Thus the Picts, the Scots of 
Dalriada (Argyll), and the Britons (of Strathclyde) regained their liberty from the 
Angles of Northumbria. 1 

Various incidents in the life of St. Cuthbert (635-687) are connected with the Cures by 
healing of the sick. It appears, from several incidental references in Bede's life St ' Cutht 
of the saint, that physicians, who were apparently numerous in the Northumbrian 
monasteries and were possessed of medical knowledge through the possession of 
medical manuscripts, regularly treated the sick in and around the monasteries. 
On one occasion, after St. Cuthbert's death, a paralysed man who could move 
only his mouth, was brought to Lindisfarne from a neighbouring monastery. 
Medical remedies were first tried by skilful physicians (medicos peritissimos) in 
the monastery of Lindisfarne, without avail ; but it is recorded that, after the dead 
saint's shoes had been put upon the sick man's feet, his legs recovered their power 
in a single night. 2 Very often, as in this case, treatment by physicians was 
ineffective and recourse was had to spiritual means of healing. 

St. Cuthbert himself, in early life, had been laid up by chronic swelling of 
the knee with contraction of the sinews in the ham, which made him lame and 
ultimately prevented him from walking at all, nor could all the efforts of the 
physicians (nulla medicorum industria) effect a cure. The trouble in the knee was 
finally relieved by the application of a poultice of wheaten flour boiled in milk, 
a method of treatment which was suggested to him by a passing stranger, 3 
afterwards supposed to have been an angel. 

Whilst a boy, he acted as a shepherd on the Lammermoor hills and by the banks 
of the river Leader, but, in 651 a.d., becoming enamoured of the monastic life, 
he betook himself to the Abbey of Old Melrose. 4 Here, some ten years later, he 
was seized with the pestilence of which many inhabitants of Britain at the time 
were sick. This was an epidemic of bubonic plague, and St. Cuthbert developed 
the usual swelling in the groin, which unfortunately burst inwards, so that he 
suffered from the effects of this for the rest of his life. The monkish physicians 
were able clearly to distinguish this disease, because it is recorded that Boisil the 
priest died of this plague, which was raging in the monastery, but the abbot died 
of the disease which the physicians called dysentery. 5 

The chronicler laments that in the time of severe mortality many of the people 
disgraced the faith that they professed by having recourse to idolatrous remedies, 
" as if by charms and amulets, or any other mysteries of the magical art, they 
were able to avert a stroke inflicted on them by the Lord." St. Cuthbert was 
very active in correcting these errors by preaching in the neighbouring villages. 6 

1 Bede : " Ecclesiastical History of England," Lib. IV., Cap. XXVI. 

2 Bedaj : " Vita S. Cuthberti," Cap. XLV. 

3 Bedae : Op. cit., Cap. II. 

4 Beda; : Op. cit., Cap. VI. 

6 Beda; : Op. cit., Cap. VIII. 
6 Bedas : Op. cit., Cap. IX. 





An interesting case was that of the wife of Hildemer, a prefect of King Egfrid, Case of 
who was devoted to almsgiving and good works, and frequently entertained h y steria 
St. Cuthbert. This lady on one occasion, affected perhaps by some household 
discord, or by the monotony of life, was suddenly seized with an hysterical attack 
or, in the language of the early church, " afflicted with the devil," and fell down, 
gnashed her teeth, emitted miserable cries, and threw about her arms and legs 
so that she struck with horror all those who saw and heard her. 

The husband came in haste for 
St. Cuthbert, but was ashamed to tell 
him of the demoniacal possession, and 
simply asked for his aid in the sudden 
illness of his wife. St. Cuthbert, 
however, perhaps from his knowledge 
of the lady's temperament, divined 
the malady, and as they went to 
Hildemer's house he assured the 
grieving husband of her speedy 
recovery. It is recorded that on the 
saint's approach she got up at once 
and took the bridle of his horse with 
joy, the evil spirit having fled. 1 On a 
subsequent occasion, Hildemer him- 
self was cured of internal pain by 
drinking water containing bread 
which had been consecrated by 
St. Cuthbert. 2 

An instance of spiritual healing, 
which is of great importance because 
it illustrates the attitude of the early 
church towards miracles, is recorded 
regarding the cure of Elfled, sister of 
King Egfrid, an abbess of a nunnery 
on Coquet Island. The abbess had 
been ill for a long time despite the 

ministration of physicians, and was so bent, apparently with rheumatism, that St. 
she was reduced to going about on all fours. She obtained a linen girdle of 
St. Cuthbert, put it on, and shortly was recovered. A nun was afterwards 
successfully treated for headache by having the girdle wrapped round her head. 
The girdle was then put away in a chest, but miraculously disappeared. 

It is explained by the venerable chronicler that Divine Providence had ordered 
I this, so that after the sanctity of the saint had been established by two miracles, 

recovery of hysterical woman on 
Arrival of St. Cuthbert 
(From 1 2th century MS. executed in Durham Priory. 
British Museum, Additional MS. 39943,) 


1 Bed* : "Vita S. Cuthberti," Cap. XV. 

2 Bed* : Op. cit., Cap. XXXI. 

S 4 1 

a ^ 3 

S " v- 

I * d §*:^| E|| §J&£ fog g\ 


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ii-cr P 

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" all occasions of doubting should be removed from the incredulous, for, if the 
girdle had remained, all those who were sick would have gone to it and, whilst 
some of them would be unworthy of being cured, its efficacy to cure might have 
been denied ; whereas their own unworthiness would have been to blame." 
It was evidently recognised that the benefit to be derived from saintly persons 
and holy things depended also upon the faith and worthiness of the person who 
was being treated. 1 

The physicians apparently used external applications as well as internal Failure of 
remedies, for the case is recorded of a young man who was cured of the pestilence physicians 
by prayer, after treatment by the physicians had proved ineffective. This young 
man was carried on a bed by some women, who approached the saint as he was 
preaching among the mountains. The physicians had painted various substances 
over the ailing parts (pepulit pestem, quam sollicita medicorum manus pigmentorum 
compositione nequiverat), but the patient was still wasted by illness. After 
receiving St. Cuthbert's blessing, he was able to walk back with the women who 
had brought him. 2 

On one occasion, as St. Cuthbert was passing southwards after a visit to Melrose, 
he was asked to turn aside to a certain house and give his blessing to a servant 
who was afflicted with such pain that he appeared to be more like a man dying 
than sick, breathing only a little through his mouth and nostrils. St. Cuthbert 
blessed some water and ordered it to be given to the sick man to drink. After 
three doses of this the patient fell asleep, passed the night in silence, and appeared 
quite well in the morning. 3 

Even after the death of the saint his reputation was so great that, as the Case of 
venerable chronicler says : " the miracles which he worked when alive did not e P lle P s Y 
cease." A certain boy was vexed so terribly by an evil spirit that he lost his 
reason and shouted and cried, trying to tear in pieces with his teeth his own limbs 
or whatever came in his way. A priest from the monastery (Lindisfarne), was 
sent to the sufferer, but was unable to expel the evil spirit. Even the relics of 
saints in the monastery proved ineffective, until a priest, who remembered where 
the water had been thrown with which the body of St. Cuthbert had been washed, 
went to this place and collected a little earth. This he is recorded to have mixed 
with some water and poured into the mouth of the epileptic boy. He, shutting 
his eyes, fell into a profound sleep, and in the morning was found free from madness 
and from the evil spirit by which he had been afflicted. Many other cures, 
according to Bede, were wrought by stones and earth from the same place. 4 

The earliest Saxon medical manuscript which has come down to us is the Leech Book 
Leech Book of Bald, dating from the early part of the ioth century. 5 In this of Bald 
volume are mentioned plants which were available for medicines, such as rue, hyssop, 

1 Bediv : "Vita S. Cuthberti," Cap. XXIII. 

2 Beda; : Op. cit., Cap. XXXII. 

3 Beda; : Op. cit., Cap. XXV. 

4 Beda; : Op. cit., Cap. XLI. 

6 Cockayne : " Saxon Leechdoms," Vol. II., p. xxiv. 



fennel, mustard, elecampane, southernwood, celandine, radish, cummin, onion, 
lupin, chervil, flower de luce, flax, rosemary, savory, lovage, parsley, coriander, 
olusatrum, savine ; and, among foreign drugs, mastich, pepper, galbanum, 
scammony, gutta ammoniaca, cinnamon, vermilion, aloes, pumice, quicksilver, 
brimstone, myrrh, frankincense, petroleum and ginger. 1 Petroleum is mentioned 
seven times, and seems to have been a valued remedy. 

This work shows the influence of a Latin education and treats of many serious 
diseases to which the author assigns herbal remedies, which he hopes will cure 
them. It was written for a physician, Bald, by Cild, a monastic scribe. He 
extracts paragraphs wholesale from Greek writers such as Paulus of Aegina, who 
compiled his medical work in the 7th century ; and the extent to which people 
travelled in the days of Saxon England is indicated by his inclusion of several 
remedies which had been sent from Helias, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to King Aelfrid. 
Nor were the people of northern Scotland less subject to distant influences, for even 
Adamnan at Iona was visited in the 7th century by Arculf, from whose information 
Adamnan composed his account of the holy places in Palestine and elsewhere. 2 

The Saxon leech also includes, in his medical collection, remedies of Hibernian Scottish 

and Scandinavian origin, and he mentions several charms which he had derived reme dies m 
. » leech book 

from a Scottish source. Among the latter he says : — 

" If a horse or other neat be elf shot, take sorrel seed and Scottish wax, 
let a man sing twelve masses over it, and put holy water on the horse, or on 
whatsoever neat it be, have the worts always with thee." 3 

In another place he recounts a charm which he says is a Scottish approved 
incantation against several poisons, as follows : — 

" For flying venom and every venomous swelling, on a Friday churn 
butter, which has been milked from a neat or hind all of one colour ; and let 
it not be mingled with water, sing over it nine times a litany, and nine times 
the Paternoster, and nine times this incantation : — 

" Acrae, aercrae, aernem, nadre, aercuna hel, aernem, nithaern, aer, 
asan, buithine, adcrice, aernem, meodre, aernem, aethern, aernem, allu, honor, 
ucus, idar, adcert, cunolari, raticamo, helae, icas xpita, haele, tobaert, tera, 
fueli, cui, robater, plana, uili. 

" That is valid for every, even for deep wounds. Some teach us against 
bite of adder to speak one word, that is, ' Faul ' ; it may not hurt him. 
Against bite of snake, if the man procures and eateth rind, which cometh 
out of paradise, no venom will damage him. Then said he that wrote this 
book, that the rind was hard gotten." 4 

1 Cockayne : " Saxon Leechdoms," Vol. II., p. xii. 

2 Adamnan : " Pilgrimage of Arculfus in the Holy Land," Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, London, 1888. 

3 Cockayne: "Saxon Leechdoms," Vol. II., Bk. I., Ch. LXXXVIII., p. 157. 
' Cockayne : Op. cit., Vol. II., Bk. I., Ch. XLV. 



Once again he mentions Scottish wax as a remedy against impotence : — 

" If one drink a creeping thing in water, let him cut into a sheep instantly, 
let him drink the sheep's blood hot. If a man be ' restrained ' with worts, 
give him springwort for him to eat, and let him sup up holy water. In case 
that a man be ' withheld ' ; if he hath on him Scottish wax, and the small 
atterlothe ; or let him drink it in boiled ale, he may not be ' restrained ' by 
worts." 1 

This Saxon leech book is a strange medley of some remedies and procedures 
which appear at the present day reasonable and useful, with others that seem 
disgusting or utterly ineffective. Well-known drugs, and simple herbs, chosen 
apparently for their appearance or some fanciful resemblance to an animal or 
inanimate object, are mingled with Christian prayers and pagan charms. The 
writer of the book displays evidence of learning, enquiry and travel, with a mixture 
of shrewdness and simplicity. 

The compiler Bald, or his scribe Cild, is both an eclectic and a latitudinarian. 
The growth of rationalism and the increasing separation between spiritual and 
physical conceptions of disease and healing are manifest in the thinly-veiled 
scepticism as to some of the cures. There is an evident doubt whether 
natural remedies are made more effective by saying over them Christian prayers, 
but it is admitted that these may at least be tried, or, if one prefers them, 
the old heathen charms that have been found useful in the past. The work is, 
however, thoroughly characteristic of medicine in the dark ages. 

1 Cockayne : "Saxon Leechdoms," Vol. II., Bk. I., Ch. XLV. 

Chapter III 

Monastic Medicine of the 
Twelfth to Fourteenth Centuries 

With the advent of the Norman civilisation, which came to Scotland at the State of 
end of the nth century and the beginning of the 12th, under Queen Margaret ^°} 1 1 f' Ild 
and especially David I., schools and religious houses were established and a much 12th century 
greater knowledge of ancient learning, including that of medicine, became 
available. Intercourse between the north of Scotland and the Baltic countries, 
and between the southern part of the kingdom and the Low Countries and France, 
speedily sprang up, and this led to a further diffusion of knowledge and to the 
introduction of new habits and modes of thought in Scotland. 

The 13th century was one of great prosperity in southern Scotland. 
The Anglian domination of Northumbria had been overcome and peace had 
reigned in Lothian for 200 years. The Norsemen had been expelled from the 
Scottish mainland. On the east coast, Berwick, reputed to be the chief port 
in Britain before the 14th century, was at the height of its prosperity, 
and in the west, Glasgow Cathedral, to-day the finest ecclesiastical building 
in Scotland, was then rising under Bishop Jocelyn's hand. The beautiful 
Abbeys of Jedburgh, Kelso, Melrose, Dryburgh, Newbattle and Holyrood 
had been founded as centres of light and learning by David I. during 
the 12th century. 

Here, amid the pleasant vales and woods of Tweedside and Lothian, peaceful 
Norman settlers had introduced art and learning without the strife from which 
England then suffered under Richard I., John and Henry III. To the people in 
the south and east of Scotland, learning had become a matter of desire, and 
grammar schools existed in all the towns of any size. An acquaintance with Latin 
was widespread, and many manuscripts of Greek and Roman learning were 
accessible in the monasteries. To Scotland came monks from England, France and 
distant Italy, and many Scotsmen went abroad, bent upon commercial enterprise, 
the acquisition of learning, or the gaining of fame and standing in the martial 
service of foreign princes. 

Most of the monasteries also possessed hospitia, situated sometimes 
at the monastery itself, sometimes on a route used by pilgrims and travellers. 
In these hospitia, monks specially skilled in medicine cared for sick or 
wounded travellers, and for persons of the district who required medical 
attention. An example of such a hospitium in Scotland is still to be 




Portrait of Michael Scot 

(From Bodleian MS., " De Physionomia? ') 

seen in the few ruined remains of Soutra Aisle, situated on the road from 
Edinburgh to Kelso and Dryburgh Abbeys, which was founded by 

Malcolm IV. in 1164, for the care of travellers 
and pilgrims proceeding to these shrines. 

As an example of a Scot who journeyed 
to the Continent and attained a reputation 
as a scholar and a doctor in foreign parts, 
Michael Scot 1 may be mentioned. He was 
born on the Scottish borders about the year 
1175 and died about the year 1232, after his 
return to his native country. He affords a 
good example of the learned churchmen who 
practised medicine at a time when learning 
of this kind was necessarily restricted to 
churchmen, because the means of deriving a 
knowledge of medicine were to be found solely 
in the libraries of the religious houses, or of 
princes. During his life abroad, between the years 1200 and 1208, Scot had 
acted as tutor to Frederick, King of Sicily and later Emperor of Germany, a prince 
famous for his talents and for his encouragement of learning. 

As a marriage present to Frederick, Scot composed for him his " Liber 
Physionomiae," a guide in the knowledge of men, intended to be useful to a pupil 
about to pass from his charge into the stormy life of European politics. 2 This 
work aims at giving a description of the character, peculiarities and diseases of 
men which can be gained from their outward appearances. The subject was an 
important branch of the knowledge of medical men in the Middle Ages, as is indicated 
in the Charter of the Edinburgh Surgeons and Barbers, who were expected to 
know the " nature and complexion of every member humanis bodie, and als thatt he 
knaw in quhilk member the signe hes domination for the tyme." The book 
attained a great popularity in manuscript, and, after the introduction of printing, 
no fewer than 18 editions appeared between 1477 and 1660. Part of the work 
is influenced by Aristotle's " History of Animals," part is taken from the " Liber 
ad Mansorem " of Rhazes, but the greater portion is apparently from Scot's own 
observation. Of the three books, into which it is divided, the first deals with 
the mysteries of birth and generation, the second expounds the evidences of the 
different complexions as revealed in various parts of the body or by dreams, and 
the third explains what signs of the inward character can be read in each of the 
bodily members. 

Michael Scot was also celebrated as a translator of Aristotle, as a 
writer on alchemy, and as a contributor to what was then an important 
science — that of astronomy and astrology. His eminence as a writer is testified 

1 See Wood Brown : " Life and Legend of Michael Scot," Edinburgh, 1897. 

* Comrie : " Michael Scot : A 13th century Scientist and Physician," Edinburgh Medical Journal, July, 1020. 



by Vincent of Beauvais, Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon. The enact- 
ments of Frederick II., regarding the practice of medicine in Italy and 
Germany, had an important influence in standardising medicine and in confirming As a teacher 
the social status of its practitioners so far as these countries were concerned, and t/tioner°" 
the inception of these regulations is probably correctly attributed to his tutor, 
Michael Scot. 1 Scot is also stated by de Renzi to have been one of the early 
teachers in the mediaeval medical school of Salerno. 2 

As a practising physician, Scot enjoyed a great reputation, being specially 
celebrated for his treatment of leprosy, gout and dropsy. One of his 
consultations on a case of calculus is still preserved in the margin of a 
manuscript in the Library of Gonville and Caius College. 3 One of his pills, 
known as " Pilulae Magistri Michaelis Scoti," 4 is noted by a 13th century 
copyist as effective to relieve headache, purge the humours wonderfully, 
produce joyfulness, brighten the intellect, improve the vision, sharpen hearing, 
preserve youth and retard baldness. These pills were composed of aloes, 
rhubarb and nine fruits and flowers made into a confection, and might fairly be 
described as excellent after-dinner pills. 

Scot had gained even in Italy a reputation as a seer of the future and magician, As a mystic 
so that Dante placed him in the Inferno along with other soothsayers as 

" That other, round the loins 
So slender of his shape, was Michael Scot, 
Practised in every slight of magic wile." 5 

1 Huillard-Brehollis : " Diplomatic History oi Frederick II." Paris, 1851. 

- De Renzi: "Collect. Salern.," i., p. 292. 

* Catalogue of MSS. in Gonville ami Caius College, 109 (i., 3). 

1 British Museum, Additional MS. 24068 (22), folio 97. 

6 Dante : " Inferno," XX., 115-117 (Cary's Translation). 

CrwclTc^eltror- %ajft& wtoifU 

Original Note of a Consultation of Michael Scot at Bologna 
in the year 122 1 

(From Gonville and Cuius College MS. 0/ the 13th century) 



Michael Scot appears to have availed himself of hypnotic suggestion for the 
performance of some of the striking feats upon which his reputation as a wizard 
was built up. Boccaccio, in the century following Scot's death, speaks of his magical 
or conjuring tricks during his stay at Bologna. 1 Two of the traditional tales regarding 
him in this connection are quoted by Wood Brown. 2 At a feast held in the month 
of January, Michael Scot caused vines with ripe clusters of grapes to appear on 
the table. The guests were bidden to choose each a bunch and wait for a given 
word. At the word " cut " the grapes disappeared and the company found them- 
selves each with a knife in the one hand and his neighbour's sleeve in the other. 

At another time, during a banquet given in Palermo by Frederick II. to 
celebrate his coronation in 1220, Scot and a companion suddenly appeared, 
dressed in eastern robes, and offered to perform a wonder. After some minor 
performances, Scot asked that a German baron Ulfo should be allowed to accompany 
them on an expedition. They left the banquet hall with Ulfo and to him they 
seemed to set forth in galleys, pass out into the Atlantic to a strange land, where 
followed battles, marriage with a lovely princess, twenty years of wedded bliss 
and a large family of sons and daughters ; finally, the two magicians reappeared 
and persuaded him to accompany them back to Palermo. On their return, to 
Ulfo's astonishment and sorrow, the banquet of twenty years before was still going 
on, and all his hardships and joys were a dream never to be repeated. 

It was natural, therefore, that on Scot's return to the Scottish Lowlands, in 
his later years, an ignorant peasantry regarded him as a wizard, whose alleged 
association with the devil is indicated by several striking features of the landscape 
in the Scottish borders : — 

" A wizard of such dreaded fame, 
That when, in Salamanca's cave, 
Him listed his magic wand to wave, 

The bells would ring in Notre Dame." 3 

Edward I. About a century after Scot's time, a distinguished patient, at the end of the 

of England 13th century and beginning of the 14th, in regard to whose treatment a considerable 
amount of record remains, was Edward I. of England, who at this time was frequently 
in Scotland engaged in the attempted conquest of this country. 

Edward I., having been severely injured by a kick from his horse on the night 
before the battle of Falkirk (21st July, 1298), was conveyed to Torphichen Priory, 
and there carefully tended and restored to health. The fact that Edward was 
conveyed some eight miles for medical treatment is a testimony to the high 
estimation in which the skill of those at the Preceptory was held, for Edward 
was accompanied by no less than seven medical men of his own, including a king's 
physician with two juniors (valetti), a king's surgeon, and two assistants (socii) 
and a simple surgeon. The king's physician and surgeon were of high standing, 

1 Boccaccio : " Elinando." 

2 Wesseloffsky : " Paradiso degli Alberti," Bologna, 1867, II., pp. 180-217, quoted by Wood Brown, " Life and Legend 

of Michael Scot," Edinburgh, 1897. 

3 Scott : " Lay of the Last Minstrel," Canto ii., 13. 



receiving the pay of Knights (2s. daily). 1 This serves to indicate the important 
social and military standing of surgeons who accompanied the armies of the 
13th century. 

By the year 1305, Edward had subdued Scotland, and William Wallace 
was executed. Edward had, however, no sooner turned his back on Scotland 
than a fresh revolt broke out under Robert Bruce, and, at the age of nearly 70, 
Edward had to face the prospect of conquering Scotland for a fourth time. Weak 
and ailing, he took the field in person, and in 1307 was laid up seriously ill at 
Lanercost Priory near Carlisle. 2 Here he was treated in the hospitium of the 
Priory. A list of medicines which were procured for his treatment has been 

Lanercost Priory 
The building with flagstaff is the guest-house in which Edward I. was treated 

As Lanercost is only some ten miles from the Scottish border, the treatment 
in this religious house may be taken as very much of the same type that would 
have been used at the hospitium of Melrose, Dryburgh, or one of the other abbeys 
on the Scottish side of the border. Edward had at the time English garrisons 
scattered throughout Scottish strongholds, and had declared himself overlord of 

1 Smart : British Medical Journal, 1873, Vol. I., p. 140. 

* " Chronicle of Lanercost," 1272-1346, trans, by Sir H. Maxwell, Glasgow, 1013, p. 179- 



last invasion 
of Scotland 
and his 
fatal illness 


Since the spring of 1306, Edward had been harassed and weakened by a 
complaint which has been described as dysentery, but which, in all probability, 
was a cancer of the bowel. At Whitsuntide, when he had to go through the public 
duty of conferring knighthood on a large company of young men in Westminster 
Abbey, his strength had proved insufficient to enable him to discharge his part 
in the ceremony. 1 In October, 1306, Edward held a council at Lanercost Priory, 
and passed sentence upon the chief instigators of what he was pleased to call the 
rebellion in Scotland, and upon those who had been guilty of the slaughter of 
John Comyn, especially Robert Bruce. He was still there, apparently unable to 
leave, in November, and was at Lanercost till 26th March, 1307. 

At Lanercost he had been seriously ill, and Master Nicholas de Tyngewyk, 2 
the physician, who was apparently an ecclesiastic, had been brought all the way 
from London to treat him, at a cost of 100s. for his travelling expenses going and 
coming. In view of the changed purchasing power of money, this would be equivalent 
at the present day to about £150. The details of the remedies used in 1306 and 
1307 for the king's treatment have been preserved, and show some points of 
medical interest. 3 

As external applications for the legs, an ointment of cicotine aloes was used, 
later a desiccative ointment with balsam, and later an application of gums. Baths 
of aromatic flowers and herbs were also employed at a cost of 110s. For inward 
relief a comforting electuary of amber and musk, with the addition of pearl, jacinth, 
gold and silver, was ordered to the large amount of eight pounds, at a cost of 
eight merks. 

Other remedies mentioned in the account, whose manner of use is not stated, 
were oleum fraxime, various plasters, distilled turpentine, oil of laurel, water of 
damascene roses, pomegranate wine, balsam, an aromatic powder of aloes, thyme 
and myrrh, musk for the nostrils, etc. A plaster with laudanum and oriental 
amber was used for the neck, and oriental amber was used to the extent of 
18 ounces for administration in the king's food and claret. Many of these 
remedies seem to be designed as aperients and for the relief of cramps and colic. 

Included in the physician's account, on the instructions of the king, are some 
items for Robert de la Warde, who was a paralytic, including 38 clysters, 12 ounces 
of Indian oil, 16 ounces of castor fat, and a quantity of castor ointment. Peter 
of Coldingham appears to have received syrup and medicine in the same way. 
John of Hockham received medicine, syrup and a clyster ; and William de Corbye 
syrup and medicine at Carlisle. 

The whole amount of the physician's bill came to £134 16s. ^d. To gain 
an idea of what this would represent at the present day, it must be multiplied by 
a figure of about 30, making an account of well over £3000 sterling for the 
physician's care, remedies and travelling expenses. 

Under Tyngewyk's treatment the king was so much relieved that on 
Midsummer Day, 1307, he solemnly dedicated in Carlisle Cathedral the horse- 

1 Seeley : " The Greatest of all the Plantagenets," London, i860, p. 374. 

2 This is probably Tingewick in Buckinghamshire. 

3 British Museum, Additional MS. 25459. 



litter in which he had been travelling, and mounted his charger on 3rd July. 
He struggled on and made two short marches at the head of his troops to 
Burgh-on-Sands, where he died within sight of Scotland on 7th July, 1307. 

This monarch's great opponent, Robert Bruce, King of Scots, died in 1329, Last illness 
also of a lingering illness. That he required a great deal of medical treatment g r ^° bert 
is evident from the accounts submitted to the Exchequer by his physician 
and various apothecaries, although the accounts are not given in detail. Thus 
Jaunius, an apothecary, received 78s. for remedies supplied over a period of 28 
weeks. 1 There are further payments to Tohannus, another apothecary, of 
£14 13s. 4^. and of 66s. 8d. 2 After the king's death the same apothecary 
received £37 6s. 8d. for drugs which were probably supplied in connection with 
embalming the king's body and the removal and preservation of the heart for 
transfer to the Holy Land. 3 The king's physician, in his last illness, was 
Master Mavinus, who lived for some time at Perth. 

Another well-known physician of this time was Master Nicholas of Flanders, Physicians' 
who received payments from the exchequer. 4 The amounts paid to him between century 4 * h 
1359 and 1364, in the reign of David II., totalled £21 13s. 4^. 

Other physicians of this reign were Hector Leche, 5 Thomas de Hall, 6 who 
was regularly employed, and John of Newcastle, who received one shilling daily 
during a period of seven weeks' detention at Edinburgh in 1359. 7 

In the reign of Robert II. there were several payments to Ferchard Leche 
for attendance on this king, 8 and in 1386 the king made him a large grant of land 
in Jura and the neighbouring isles. Ferchard Leche also received a payment 
from Robert III. in 1397, 9 and in the same year this monarch sanctioned the 
payment of ten shillings to a physician (cuidam medico) who treated Robert of 
Danyelstoun. 10 William, a physician practising in Glasgow, attended Robert III., 
receiving on two occasions, in 1395 and 1397, a fee of 53s. 4^., equivalent to the 
duty on two sacks of wool. 11 

There was in Scotland a considerable folk-medicine which is to be found in Medical 
the early state of society already described in Chapter I., and which, in remote ^^asteries 
districts, was handed down by tradition with little change, to the 17th century 
(see Chapter X). At the time which we are at present discussing, about the 
12th, 13th and 14th centuries, a more rational study of medicine and disease was 
coming into existence through the church. Churchmen passed freely from one 
country to another in times of both peace and war, carrying their manuscripts with 
them. It is difficult at the present day to say, in regard to those early medical 

1 "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. I., p. 176. 

2 Op. cit., p. 213. 

3 Op. cit., Preface, p. cxxi. 

' Op. cit., p. 616, Vol. II., pp. 29, 149. 

5 Op. cit., Vol. I., pp. 562 and 617, Vol. II., p. 6. 

■ Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 357. 

' Op. cit., Vol. I., p. 616. 

' Op. cit., Vol. III., pp. 74, 137, 242. 

• Op. cit., Vol. III., p. 415. 

10 Op. cit., Vol. III., p. 422. 

11 Op. cit., Vol. III., pp. 356, 427. 



manuscripts which have been preserved, that they were used in one or other country. 
A manuscript copied at an Italian or Spanish monastery might find its way to 
Scotland, while manuscripts originating in Scotland have been carried by their 
owners to France or Switzerland, and there found a permanent resting-place. 

Certain manuscripts, however, can be definitely indicated as having been 
used in Scotland and found in its religious houses at the time of the Reformation. 
Sir James Balfour (1600-1657), of Denmilne and Kinnaird, Lyon King-of-arms 
to Charles I., was in early life an enthusiastic antiquary and collected manuscripts 
which had been dispersed at the Scottish Reformation some fifty years previously. 1 
A number of these, including five medical works which came out of Scottish 
monasteries, are included among his books preserved in the National Library at 

It is not now possible to indicate the monastery from which they came, 
beyond saying that they were used in Scotland. Some extracts from these 
give an idea of the views held as to the nature and treatment of disease by 
the clerical practitioners of medicine in Scotland during the 12th, 13th and 
14th centuries. 

These five MSS. are as follows : — 

(1) No. 18.3. 13 (Denmilne 7). " Commentaria in Libros Galieni de Corpore 
humano et in Libros Aphorismorum Hippocratis." (12th century.) 

(2) No. 18. 5. 16 (Denmilne 4). " Medical Collection." (12th century.) 

(3) No. 18. 6. 13 (Denmilne 8). " Liber Galieni ad Glauconem Nepotem." 
(12th to 13th century.) 

(4) No. 18.6.9 (Denmilne 59). " Miscellaneous Medical Treatises." (14th 

(5) No. 18.2.5 (Denmilne 33). " Serapionis librum de Simplicibus et 
Constantini Theorica et Practica Medicinae." (14th century.) 

Commen- (1) The commentaries on the books of Galen concerning the human body, 

Qaienand an< ^ on ^ 00 ^ s °^ Aphorisms of Hippocrates, constitute a large vellum volume, 
Hippocrates 10^x7! in., with 126 folios in double columns, bound in smooth brown leather. 

The manuscript is written in Latin and is of the 12th century. The author, as 
stated in the introduction, is Johannicus, the disciple of John of Alexandria. 
Selections from the text of Galen and Hippocrates are written in large script, and 
a commentary follows each in a smaller hand. The part on Galen occupies folios 
1-49, and that on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, folios 50-126. There is no mark 
of ownership earlier than that of Sir James Balfour. 

The following is a translation into English of the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, 
Section V., numbers 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 (together), 15, 16, 17 and 18, with, in 
each case, the commentary by Johannicus upon the aphorism. The commentaries 
give a good idea regarding the somewhat naive notions held by practitioners in 
the 12th century regarding bodily functions and diseases. 

1 Sibbaki : " Mcmoria Balfouriana," Edinburgh, 1699, pp. 32 et seq. 



MS. National Library 18.3. 13. ff.ioo v , 101, ioi v . 



Aphorisms of 

PURULENT. Hippocrates 

This does not mean that pleurisy develops into empyema, but refers to those suffering 
from quinsy. Quinsy sometimes develops in the fleshy parts of the throat and by the 
smoothness of the place, slips down to the lung and suffocates the subject up to the 
seventh day. 

If they escape these seven days without dying, it signifies strength of the lung and 
that the material has collected in the hollow of the chest and turned into an empyema. 
Let us labour, therefore, that the sick man may be purified from matter, that is to say, 
when anyone has a quinsy it must be found out whether he has not had a determination 
of it either by a discharge from the nostrils or by another abscess. 


He has now spoken of phthisis by what signs we may recognise the phthisical persons 
who are about to die. But he shows that it is to be noted that a wound of the lung can 
scarcely be healed both because the lung is in motion and on account of the sputum existing 
there. But after matter has collected there the lung can in no wise be healed. For 
a wound cannot be consolidated and healed unless it is purified ; but a wound of the lung 
cannot be purified except by coughing, and cough is inimical to the closing wound. For 
the motion of coughing opens rather than closes the wound, whence no doubt a certain 
part of the matter is removed by the cough, but by the greater opening a greater quantity 
of matter is collected there and thus the sick cannot in any way afterwards be cured. 
We ought, therefore, to labour while the wound is recent and not wait till it has become 
putrefied, to cure it with remedies which are styptic and consolidating and constricting 
to the blood. If, however, those who are troubled by phthisis have now come to a stage 
at which the matter they spit up gives a heavy smell when poured upon charcoal, and if the 
hair is falling from the head, it is a fatal sign. In this matter, that the sputum smells 
thus when placed upon charcoal, it indicates that the substance of the lung is thrown up 
putrefied. If, however, it is asked why the sputum does not smell at an earlier stage, it 
is because, when congealed by coldness, it did not give up any odour even when placed on 
charcoal, and when now dissolved by heat it gives up a smell. In this matter that the 
hair falls from the head is a sign that there is almost no effervescence made in the body, 
and that nutrition is defective ; thus the hair falls out which is developed from the smoke 
of the body, and this being deficient, it falls out. All these things threaten death. 


Not only does the smell of the sputum signify death, but in diarrhcea with resulting 
loss of the hair the nutriment is also drawn away. This ought to sustain the debility of 
the sick and the little heat and spirit left evaporate. Moreover, this diarrhcea shows 
a loss of the strength which ought to be retained. Thus let us, so to speak, by no 
means allow phthisical patients to fall into diarrhcea, and if they have fallen into it 
let us bind them. 

(nfw ha ^tt-^paaaOtpAtfi apf- 
n»nefada.<p# njarmw irvnu 
Jttrof afy ^rv'f^F ficrr-fn i 
<mim ecmt cate -tficmaf ijkbi- 
nn augtra# . <pr<: acaaa 

t? ntmu ntmpnvf farjrtfnfif. 

^ X ^ ; OLWiajmqi guimncrm cf 
fogitmfc adpulinoncm 
of comierrmirrq m feprf' 

ftlttttf. QvtKomqi cfuttun 
oeWMWrm ylattma empra 
fi unr. fj <f itmanmet • qnatima- 
Itcfn fir tnamofif loaf gxfrof. 
ilmtmrr Ion dcmrnr.tfpuftno 
nf fwftp as faramum bicm 
fuffoar.^fi cflrigtuTTT Iwf-" 
(Vprcm <hcf 'TKCTn<nmttT^fyr 
nn^cTrfo2•rT^J^hTl^m jmlmo- 
pedouf codcAim .7 amttflcr in- 
emptma lafwjmmf trur cqtr 
4 fame Tnundifitrr^Ac^aap 
finance- 4c rflifrntefligeofcat- 
quit? nulla facta cA- ocnrmino 
nap pftarum narra-nap^M' 

1^ Qjit^ptfitG mofcibmtinr 
ftfytrtum quofccwngi 

oftmdnr.S^noxatidmn efl-qnapF- 
nwraf iwlrf iiir ptvft- aAfoKb- 
nxam idro qftm mibnommom 
cfh tumjpf font iln fnftsmo,,. 

peftyuam ibt collcch d^Cmi 
ef nuKo m pottfr amfobdan.Co 
fob&an emm ncm nrrrfl-tralnut 
4utrm tmIn 4 muttdifiattnpoif. 
nifi|»tufltm.Yufrif tl tratraa eft- 
cfcuidenfo' tmbh . i-fam tntafli c 
uia£ er mtra ntagif a^rtf indit* 

parf ftnto vmffcm mmanta 
f» maiomn Jpmonrm ttmm qrn 
taf fama ibiScm col&giCTfic nro 

litoKUT dum uuWmcnf cft-.W 
dum tnrnii>um.cuttiti^flrpn 
gmal^.tn- mj W wmrrlSt 4« q 
a pdnfi motertanriam ifctaf 
im.m ifl^o^rpuuiTr guf feme- 
reAkrrfa^ anWefefttrfomia 
ptflt a caprrc befluurr-'nTonale jf. 
|nl)oc qtf ffrtnu Gc fmrtus carw 
tiff ptmmi.fatltanna ptflnW 
ptnrrfofti emrra prntrtfrrSnui 
<^cttrc(rat?mtfncmfctOTC<hBf * 
atm ftigitotc (ongclmtm-nal- 
uun rector otwem . yobmtoxr 
fin? cartencf .7 calaw ouTofarutn ' 
emtmt fcnntmjn hoc ^ aptlh 

Aphorisms of Hippocrates 
'Those who escape quinsy, etc.." and "In those who are troubled by phthisis, etc.," with 12th century coi 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.3.13, folio 100 verso) 

a cAjwtcfounr. tjgmmi eft- qmJ 
nuib fee itjcozpr for ebullraonqp/ 
debiw Wismmmuxm cuhitrr rapi! 
»kd ai- {uwr tjc futno arqwnf.tnM 
Jschooii? ad«trr.t><ttj nwecaum 

(linbiifauu^ pitnfiaf fidcfiu 
unr cunlb .diarra fa^ue 


ntfotta£.-rc-$amja few fptmniu? 
tan figm&ar.ftT durra cii ftqr 

turn fobmir.qdltx6ifeTaTt antra? 
{bftmat? OeJ^d&dStantiHicr 
lonf.-tttit taapatr.bff4aiE char 

fJnrf <fettriara *»aim« firanraf 

Qiuatunp fangumcm tyu 

pittow cdtittto ftcjjp 
fihabno tana (h^mm- 

SSttne. Camipofici a^afmom ti 
game- amamtcxnM tpfom Big: 
nofemfofttndtr.Sanjuif 4raff 
' pCe»aflirf.4l«jn aftontta>.iIunT 
4<2f^3bgh apeton: align 5 
^wfowttt.^tta fcifermr 4fto: 
inacp tntr»umrittu emttti£ 4, 
.ftp b* a :grjmf •' Sftnmmir* - 

ftmrf tn pljty. 3p«2o»« p^naf 
fpumof? JpubnoiK u #3pj*r?7jptj - 
moM-Orm emm mpnljtiontip: 
frr mterf.feamf mfeugmnt mo 
tai.veWrrntm ff omufimjrjfkeog' 
iiofaTapnlmptie ermro|5fa&/ 
nontm dmmatjn fttttu ctf& j 
la» mwaf'cft-fti foU durmfa- 
piadnta-tationc. , 

Ciuioimq^^lcutmdc em 
piQ fxuiTr-fiputgmoiri 
quadngima diebnf 4 
qua d?c ruprum fcr.lj 
efcunr-SiuetD notrmp 
"ofi.ii trmjcunr <quu&« 

4 ^entente .Btfcrr ^fe«ri3ja?f 
tti mtyimtcutfttt -not* in , 
imirami l^ftuffohmoriiffwn- 
mfra cjuera tcrmtnij fmon pur 
genr mpatin Ttanfcuiit.Sicnj 
trawra non tnttfrthnquadtagi 
u diefe <)|nnanf Hb dk die. a <f 

tntfo marmtn^w ddnlnaf no 
t^irrjttanftunc m^trim* 

Cj' audum noccrbot frequeut 

inmobuf annum efemi 

naraonem.ncroonmi tro- 

nnmmm mentif ihipHe. 

Ctngunuf fttjmm.ccfedio \J 

Aphorisms of Hippocrates— continued 
any phthisical persons, etc.," "Those who spit up frothy blood, etc.," " Those who develop empyema, etc.. 
and beginning of "Warmth injures those employing this frequently," with 1 2th century commentaries 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.3. 13, folio 101 recto) 

(J. Utdtmi noor-nccrera-lbcbunrte 
' m^jfetf quifnitrrcrqiatlTtctre • 
ric Xim ogir 6c i&f.cfin fmttr p" 
cftaltnur -in: cr al<w<frigi to- Cum 
4^rr df abiD-iotkn&ar que tap 
wdimf mdc 
tebahw Mibmitt7<br.c|iiia 
cahbum noccr boc ftxqtmtf tnrrra 
bi-foar cnmi tffrrniti.Taoncmar' 
mtrni-i? tnlncnm cnrai caudca 
tpie.arneJ nwUAcjr.ifenmcaf 
^drnfetmnc mofkf hnrcirn^ 
p-JjumidmtK -uin " tictrtatt ta 
CTf~ic#boc non ^nfftmr lateen? 
fuftincr?. olo?c emtn burmdra 
ton thfTobitramruofanofur. 
-ma here neruomm mastmm 
mm. \mn gc halnw Vpctymuni' 
b?|> balneum toflbbmf. afteoittr 
fwn cm6m ro .-itenlcndo gnarfm 
proem Tnemd". Calwt # caa ueraf 
5|riuTTr.iftr Cmgumtf flwraf 

Jcferao <^f ctuprocmemra - 

fraf -^efcthonc V^c-lmwrt facts 

dir. , e 
J ngidwm ucio-Tfafniolcr 

wt&ErcaloK fuf 

tma-ftuc aertf-fiue ntutf .fine 
batno-ncmj amnabtimrifir 

•reranb; tmTnfntigOTff-imgro 
t^lnjttdnatt crura mtm& mc- 

taa mbouttaiw .^itfanrrar 
4?fe<midem fanrftig9a.flpm%' 
Mr jrrrnoa fear" 
fckcf-cjuia wmtxiTtfcmixmipn 
pflrr.'prdcnfitate fapfiaci imV 
tinmftnV-fctar feW? 

Jp wgidmn ntnmatm ?tr ntr- 
nif .offity • dcimb? . cmrmfyr 
rati xnedvilk. pwgidum n& 

Qhduifnpdtim famim cgmto . 
nef non mtmmA? memtmf ecf- 
brer: guta fnjptaf cahdum c femtn. 
fngidnm aero m«raami.i.ner^ 
ml-outf^.dennbj.Cafo?* ornnre? 
fagidnaf rejitiM t -t cO&|b£ CenfE * 
it rorajgbr caftdmn rtbumtJwj c. 
n<fdcahduTn ftc-'yemom lytottf' 
baffniotucntm creates: babcr."? /; 

illx achoncf ectvfot ^fngfuha 
rer.mcahdttni bftn&i 
lef mrtmtf uigmr-i^b ncaxfb 
ir wfttra ft cstoura.-mroKinr- 
AimcbotK ucro acnf ftair anM- 
anf calro Tcnqjar .i ttaaendema 
bfrfctglbu dr. cn aurc offifelP*" 
tttmltf (fe^tds amimdcr.TOcait 

fett cai^^m^Kmo- %ig»i«t> 
nram Wnaxt Icdir-ioftringr. 
^fnmdwm cfr ei mimuom- 
SptnaFmc^to ^mMjm^ 



Aphorisms of Hippocrates — continued 
Continuation of " Warmth injures those employing this frequently etc.," " But cold causes spasms, etc.." and 
u ^ inimical t0 the nerves, etc.," with 1 2th century commentaries 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.3.13, folio 101 verso) 


6 9 


He shows when phthisical patients bring up blood from the lung how we may recognise 
the same. For blood discharged by the mouth comes sometimes from the stomach, 
sometimes from the head, sometimes from the chest, sometimes from the lung. It is 
recognised as coming from the stomach when it is thrown up by vomiting ; but when from 
the head it comes out by the upper passages, and is felt to fall upon the palate ; from 
the chest it is spat out, but not frothy ; but from the lung it is spat out in a frothy state. 
For since there is much spirit in the lung making a movement in the blood the patient 
brings it up frothy and so it is recognised as ejected from the lung. In phthisis, not only 
is diarrhoea with falling of the hair fatal, but diarrhoea by itself for the above-mentioned 


He had said that people with pleurisy pass into empyema not earlier than the end of 
its resolution, and he fixes the term at which they go over into phthisis if they are not 
purified. For if the material is not purified in forty days computed from the day on which 
the rupture of the abscess takes place, the amount of the matter and the weakness of the 
sick man become notable and he passes over into phthisis. 


He has treated of diseases which arise from quantity, and he does not deal with those 
which arise from quality as from frigid heat. When he deals with warmth and shows 
that sicknesses appear from it, he seems to deal especially with the bath and to say that 
warmth injures those using this frequently. For it makes effeminacy of the muscles, etc. 
For a bath of warm water softens the muscles, renders them feminine. Women have 
soft muscles from moisture ; (from dryness those of a man are hard) and on account of 
this they cannot sustain labour, for by heat it dissolves the moisture and softens the 
nerves, and thus causes want of control of the nerves. Also from the bath, or from 
humours dissolved by the bath, smoke ascends and by filling the brain, aggravates stupor of 
the mind. By warmth also the mouths of the veins are opened and a flow of blood takes 
place. From a flow of blood what follows ? Defection of the spirit takes place from its 
evaporation, and on defection of the spirit death succeeds. 


From warmth the things mentioned above arise, but from cold, spasms, etc. 
For from too much cold, whether of air or of snow, or of the bath, the nerves are contracted 
and spasm or tetanus arises. In the posterior and anterior nerves both rigors and black- 
nesses are caused by cold, for the stiffened joints shiver and blacken as it appears in a dead 
person. The cold stage of fever by itself indeed makes cold because it cools the exterior 
parts by chance or makes fevers because when the smoke cannot evaporate from the 
density of the surface, it causes intense fever inwardly. 




We have said that heat and cold make sicknesses, but not equally in all members, 
because to the cold members warmth is friendly, but cold is unfriendly, that is to the 
nerves, bones and teeth. For by warmth their coldness is repressed and made milder. 
But the brain is naturally warm and moist, and because it becomes warm by its own action 
it is proved that it has its action from warmth thus. Because by warmth reason grows 
stronger, and the other activities of the brain are destroyed by cold, as appears in lethargic 
people. In persons who have a warm brain the animal virtues flourish, and on account 
of this it was necessary that the same should be naturally warm ; but by the drawing in 
of the air as in the case of the heart, its warmth is made milder, and thus it is accidentally 
cold. Moreover (the brain) is surrounded with bones and membranes of cold nature 
and thus almost the whole composition of the head is cold, that is, it is injured by too much 
cold, and thus cold is inimical to it. The spinal medulla is similarly cold, and its coldness 
is increased by cold. 

1 2 th century 



(2) The Medical Collection is a vellum manuscript, 9^x6^ in., containing 
93 folios of 30 or 31 lines to a page, bound in smooth brown leather with brass clasps. 
It dates from the 12th century. It contains : (a) Macer on " The Virtue of Herbs," 
which is a set of Latin verses dealing with the curative properties of various plants, 
37 folios, (b) Evax, King of the Arabs, on " The Virtues of Stones," also in Latin 
verse, 7 folios, (c) " Liber Graduum Medicinae," 31 folios, which gives remarks 
upon the virtues of various remedies, particularly in regard to their qualities of 
heating, drying, etc. (d) " Liber de Medicina," 14 folios. It consists of a series 
of remarks on the virtues of plants, alphabetically arranged, but it stops suddenly 
at the letter " F." 

In the margin on folio 92, in a hand of the 13th century, is written " Frater 
Gristinus, Gloucester, Monachus de Burgo Sancti Petri," which suggests that the 
collection for a time belonged to a monk of Peterborough. On the same folio, 
rules for the practice of medicine are laid down by a certain Oranus and addressed 
to " hlio karissimo." 

Galen MS. 
and anti- 

(3) The book of Galen to his nephew, Glaucon, is a Latin vellum manuscript, 
7|X5s i n - i n s i ze > containing 124 folios with 37 lines to a page, bound in smooth 
brown leather with two brass clasps. It dates from the 12th or 13th century. 
It has coloured capitals and entries, and the initials of the various books are 
of more or less elaborate design. Book II. has an elaborate initial in red and 
blue, and interlaced Celtic design in colour, the background purple, floriated in 
green, red and blue, and this Celtic ornamentation is evidence that the monastic 
scribe was of Scottish origin. Folio 11, on which this design appears, is shown 
in the illustration on page 72. There are no marks of ownership prior to 
the signature of Sir James Balfour. 

The manuscript contains two works: (a) "The Liber Galieni ad Glauconem 
Nepotem," 95 folios, takes up various diseases and morbid conditions, one by one, 



and treats them under the headings of signs, cure, etc. Various possible complica- 
tions follow the account of each disease. (b) "The Antidotarius Particulars, " 
30 folios, takes up various remedies, mentioning the diseases for which they are 
useful, giving prescriptions for dispensing them, etc. ; also giving the composition 
of prescriptions under such headings as ointments, vomits, potions, etc. It is 
arranged alphabetically. 

Folio 11 contains first of all an index, and then remarks on " cough," of which 
the translation is as follows : — 

MS. National Library 18.6. 13, f. ir. (For original, see page 72 ) 

Book II. commences : Cough comes dry upon some, upon others moist, and accom- 
panied by much phlegm. Upon others with want of breath and asthma, and upon others 
with spitting of blood or vomiting. Others come to phthisis and die wasted. These 
are very greatly troubled by the cough and become cyanosed, pleuritic and affected by 
pneumonia and empyema. Cough may become moist from a humour of the head 
or from catarrh either out of the fauces or from rheum collecting by drops in the lung. 
Cough may also be dry in people with pneumonia and pleurisy, also from the diaphragm 
in people troubled by the stomach. In this case it may arise from hardness of the liver 
and rheum of the fauces or from sharp-tasted food and salt diet, or from cold drink. 
It may also be caused by dust, smoke or evil-smelling ground ; also from plethora 
of blood when a vein has ruptured internally. 

Cure. They are cured thus : They ought to lie up in a light and well-aired house, 
and if the cough has been loosened they may receive a constringing electuary such as this : 
B Roasted linseed 8 scruples, mustard seed 1 scruple, pulegium 4 scruples, roasted nuts 
3 scruples, etc. 

(4) The miscellaneous collection of medical treatises is written partly in Latin Medical 
and partly in Norman-French, which was a language of culture among the upper misce l lan y 
classes in the south and east of Scotland. The volume is a vellum manuscript, 
7§X5i in., with 156 folios, sometimes in double, sometimes in single columns of 
varying length, bound in smooth brown leather with two brass clasps. It dates 
from the 14th century. It is a miscellaneous collection, each section being written 
by a different hand, and several blank pages are filled with insertions in a later 
hand, with a variety of marginal jottings throughout. The only mark of ownership 
is that of Sir James Balfour. 

The contents are : (a) Part of an index to some other work, one folio. 
(b) The Dispensatorium of Nicolaus : a treatise on the practice of medicine and 
materia medica, 43 folios, (c) Miscellaneous recipes, 5 folios, (d) The collection 
of Master Walter de Agelon on the doses of medicines, 17 folios, (e) Miscellaneous 
notes, 4 folios. (/) Alphabetical index of medical terms, 12 folios, (g) Anonymous 
treatise on medicine, in French, 67 folios. (//) Miscellaneous recipes in French and 
some astrological notes in Latin, 8 folios. 

_ . ■ 

£ eru&euU. It > tflmMUL. iy 

>* IX > * fU$nwttt,l() 

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cv irtnihrA ti^nxciA ^ facia tvwnxtfna.t 

Dealing with c 

Liber Galieni ad Glauconem 
ough and showing Celtic decoration of capital. 12th or 13th century copy 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.6.13, folio 11 verso) 


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Miscellaneous Recipes containing Prescription Against Stone, etc. 

1 4th century copy 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 1S.6.0, folio 44 recto) 

jffoc fcrm^itc iNc^mtmtt, * tufmu (senior 

ttfcc ttmtoepyiu, tt*un.aj$m*tnmtaftt&Ur 
Villi- tfbCutttm: olunvAi^a. tettttifcurf mifoc 

>ame rttnmutfc ci*i^mmuj^t*ofitt. tut I 

S^Uulc fhpttce cotdr octn fd^tm itmtnf turn? 

^ftfcic ntpfn^faugmf ^tftmf Atflu acmttf y 

eatc*&atte tmtiam6mt.(j)0btittiftnt»j^ttttv am 
i 1nrt> atf^t. o^tydMttu?* atm (Uko ttmaHt 
ttt^nmiiflctttitttntt^a^^tTl*ar fftemwafcum 
^^i/6actuThc.uuavVi»rtmt atf^tO^tumaV |J 
rt c^tiumct*jjittty wttiat>oVA*Vtt^artttt v 
, Cvoba^ntrt*(^icttnf ^itt(ummupr U 



14th century copy 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.6.9, folio 24 verso) 



The following extract for pills, intended respectively to improve the vision, 
I to take before food as a stomachic, and to check dysentery, are taken from section 
| (b) the Dispensatorium of Nicolaus. 

MS. National Library 18.6.9, r - 2 4 v (f or original, see page 74,). 

Pillule optomere i de viij speciebus humores epissos de capite deponunt et visum 
oculorum clarum esse faciunt cataractas prohibent .'. 1 i facimus R aloes diagridii amborum 
3 ii coloquintide nitriorum epyterii cretici agarici mastici kebuli absinthii omnium vi 3i 
terantur et cum succo strigni in modum ciceris informentur. Dentur ex eis ix vel xi mane 
aut vespere cum vino. 

Pillule ante cibum. R cardamomi gariofili cinnamomi galange nucis muscate zedoarum 
ZZ. ligni aloes epice mastice ana 5i lapidis lazuli .'. s. reubarbari ~ i. 

Pillule stiptice contra omnem fluxum ventris maxime lientericis et dissintericis R 
mirtilli balauttie psidie symphin sanguis draconis boli acaue ypoquistidos rose tartari sumac 
croci gallie muscate galle cinnamomi spodii macis gummi arabici ana 5i °P n thebaici 3 s. 
cum succo cimarum myrti et lentici tempera et pillulas fac in modum orobi. Da ex illis ix 
vel xi cum aqua ro. vel pluviali. 

The following extract (for original, see page 73 ) is a prescription for a remedy 
against the stone, from treatise (c) : — 

R Pulveris probatissimi contra lapidem. Feniculi uncias iiij gingiberis uncias 4 (?) 
anisij unciam z 2 liquoris unciam z cimim unciam z carui unciam i petrosillimi unciam i saxifragii 
unciam i sene unciam i et semis milij solis unciam i nucis et macis unciam i 3 piperaisinis 
fenegri oleum oliveri liberum inceneris cervici cereus. 

The following extract (for original, see page 76 J gives prescriptions for 
a laxative fomentation and for clysters, from section (d), by Master 
Walter de Agelon : — 

De Fomentis. 

Fomentum laxatum sic fit. 

Violarum r iii esule laureole catapucerie titumalli ana li. s. mercurialis malve ana li. 
ciclaminis '~ ij seminis fenugreci seminis aloe seminis lini ana -f- iiij in aqua et oleo bulliant 
donee herbe marcescere videantur et fumus recipiatur et cum aqua tepuerit abluatur circa 
inferiora fomentum egrotationem provocat et emordidas si quis eas consueverit habere. 

De Clisteris. 

Clisteria aliqua mollificativa aliqua mordicativa mollificativum sic fit. R viole malve 
mercurialis furfuris tritici ana 1. i. in aqua bulliant que coletur et tepida iniciatur. Aliud 
mordicatum R salis armonici 5 s - 4 scamone piretri ana 5 s - 1- aqua bulliant cum colatetur 
iniciatur. Aliud mollificativum R seminis lini fenugreci ana 3i bacce ursine aloe ana -r s. 6 
1. i. aqua bulliant donee semina mollia fiant que colata iniciatur pro clistere. 

* z'= i. 

3 In the margin opposite " piperaisinis " there is a word undecipherable. 
' 3 s - = i drachm. 

* Prot)ably -', = ounce. 





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t: htnttffin treat™ m*g4tfn*fop mu>» wmifl ntostftrarwn tttm? 
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«4t- f co^ 3ft^ntpi»mMfl&tc-H«t«>1«a 





if coMj4«m£ 

..-i 3 Ictna-lc 
Tim ft*- i/t-fruiKi l^d/.wlirf 

Walter de Agelon on the doses of medicines 

14 th century copy. This gives directions for fomentations, clysters, etc. 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, i8.6.q, folio 56 verso) 


J- I * 

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Werner •«t»^$ ef£ 2Wurcf 

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f ^ 1 

Norman - French Copy of recipes 
This deals with headache. 14th century copy 
(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.6.9, folio 81 recto) 

i/~ iVf wiiViir a nfo £ fc>kn &Ta Ttit^ 
^^pf : ^endnffim Aef tftomac. La a(J . c ^to 
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\><t\ chunhl Uti'U xidH* 'Vnwzs vnf 
miyr.-Sila total m tt'lfe rov<s*vwaut 
Letter Id csithi a ^ slA * K ' Mr 

c <tti op\<t cvo latter ta ^fh». ^nkn 

oula tttoi eft * cy*^^t1^ ^yk tewf 

Norman-French Copy of RECiPES — continued 

(MS. National Library of Scotland, 18.6.9, folio 81 verso) 



The following extract (for original, see pages 77 and y8) is taken from the Norman- 
Norman-French part of the manuscript, section (g), and deals with headache Prench MS - 
(dolor de la teste), its causes and its cure by bleeding, cupping and the application 
of milium, anise and the skin of a lamb, and by various internal remedies :— 

En periston est cest livre apele ceo est a dire bien esprove car mya riens escrit en cest 
livre ki ne est esprove premierement dirrum de la teste e plus dautres membres premiere- 
ment de dolor de la teste. 

Dolor de la teste alafoyz est en tute la teste e done est apele cephalea ou cephalargia 
ou soda. Alafoiz est en milu de la teste e done est apele emigranea ausi avient en 
divers lus de la teste solonc les quatre complexions car dolor de sane est el front de 
colre en la destre part de fleume est par deriere e de melancolie est en la senestre partye. 
La cure de dolor de la teste est si la materie est de sane soulement ke le patient seit seine 
de la vein capitale en la contrere partye de la dolor. E sachet ke icovient ke le patient 
se garde de trop manger ou boyvre e nomement de vin e mult levant dormir sovent. La 
cure de dolor ke avient par certein tens e par certein houre est icele ceo est asavoir ke le 
patient se garde de longes pensees e de ire e de cumpaynie de femme. E sachet ke avicenne 
dit par lautorite de philagorie ki mult vaut a destrure dolor de la teste ke le patient seit 
seine de la veine en le front ou de la veine ki est dedens le levre par aval ou mettre ventouses 
en le col e desouz la teste e poy aler e lesser viandes ki enflent. E sachet ke acetouses 
choses misent a cely ki ad dolor de la teste par encheson del estomac. La cure de dolor 
de la teste de freid encheson de materie de melancolie quant la dolor est forte. Prenet 
milium ebroillet desure une chaude tuyle e plus metet en un sachel e raet la teste e metet 
le sur la teste. Autre esprove prenet K.s. de anis. e metet en eawe chaude en treis sachels 
e metet un sur la teste e un autre desur loraylle la ou la dolor est. Autre esprove escorchet 
un iefne moton e metet la pel chaude sur la teste un ior e une nuyt. Si la dolor ne cesse 
mye uncore lavet la teste ovekue cette eawe quisset la racine de cucumbre savage en eawe 
e en oyle e de ceo lavet la teste plus enbruet la teste ovekue ces oyles prenet oyle de camo. 
oyle de pulleole ana li. s. oyle muscellin H-> Hi medlet ensemble e de ceo chaud enoynet la 
teste e enbruet e de ces oyles metet en lorayle de cele part ou la dolor est, eplonget lorayle 
leins (plus surmetet la pel de moton). 

(5) The book of Serapion on simples, and the theory and practice of medicine Works on 
of Constantine, is a large Latin vellum manuscript, 12x8^ in., with 251 folios in and 
double column, containing each from 45 to 47 lines. It is bound in thick boards practice 
covered with stamped leather and closed by two brass clasps. It dates from 
the 14th century. 

It consists of two parts : (a) The book of Serapion (an Arabic writer on 
medicine) on simple medicines. This formed a favourite medical text-book 
of the middle ages, and numerous manuscripts of it are extant. It purports 
to be a translation by Symon Ianuensis (of Genoa ?) from Arabic into Latin, 
with the help of Abraham, a Jew of Tortosa, in Spain. It is in two sections, 
of which the first treats of simple remedies and the second of plants, minerals 
and animals, preceded by an alphabetical index, and it covers 122 folios. 

[b) The theory and practice of medicine of Constantine is contained in two 
treatises, each preceded by an index, and they together make up one treatise, 
called " Pantegnum," which covers 129 folios. This is dedicated by the scribe 
fto his lord and most reverend father, the abbot Desiderius of Monte Casino. 

1 Probably — i— = ounce 

Chapter I V 

Medical Practice in the Fifteenth Century 

In the 15th century much increased interest was taken in the healing powers 15th century 


of the medical art, and there was general progress with a tendency throughout 1 

Europe for medicine to become more scientific. In England, Thomas Linacre 
(1460-1524) studied medicine in Italy, practised under Henry VII. in London, 
and founded the Royal College of Physicians. In Italy, Lorenzo de Medici, the 
Magnificent (1448-1492), was an assiduous collector of medical manuscripts, 
and he, as well as other princes, did much to encourage this branch of learning 
and to foster the study of anatomy at Florence. In France, Paris and Montpellier 
were important schools of medicine, and the treatises of Guy de Chauliac on surgery 
(1363), and of Bernard Gordon on medicine (circa 1307), had appeared in the 
preceding century. 

It is natural, therefore, that physicians, provided with translations of the 
well-known medical works, should be found in Scotland in the 15th century. 
Moreover, this was the century of the foundation of the Scottish Universities : 
St. Andrews (1411), Glasgow (1453), and Aberdeen (1494) ; and at each of these 
some of the clerical teachers had probably made a special study of the medical 
manuscripts available to them. 

In the year 1431, Paul Crawar, a German from Bohemia, came as a medical Paul Crawar, 
missionary to Scotland, bearing with him letters of recommendation which described missionary 
him as excelling in the art of medicine (prsecellens arte medicinae). He is described 
by Walter Bower, Abbot of Inchcolm, 1 as ready and conversant with sacred 
literature and with the mission of the Bible, but as having held pertinaciously by 
the erroneous beliefs of Huss and Wyclif. Having been confuted by Laurence 
of I. indores. the inquisitor of heresy, he was convicted at St. Andrews on 
23rd July, 1433. and burned at the stake with a brass ball in his mouth. It was not 
unnatural for Sir James Balfour, writing after the Reformation, to describe the 
Abbot of Melrose who presided at the trial, as a " luberdly mounke." 2 Paul Crawar 
was not the last medical missionary who has suffered death when attempting to 
combine the healing of the body with the teaching of a new belief. 

About the same time, Master James of Germany was in attendance upon 15th century 
King James I ., and received, in 143 1, the handsome payment of £20 by a letter under j^J 8 ^™ 8 
the king's seal. 3 He evidently occupied a position of great regard in the court, 
and apparently attended Oueen Joan, for in 1436 he was the recipient at her 

1 Bower: " Scotichronici continuatio," Cap. XX. 

2 " Works of John Knox," Edit, by David Laing, Edinburgh, 1846, Vol. I., p. 6, and Appendix, p. 407. 
■ "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. IV., p. 541- 



instance of several handsome presents, including ostrich feathers, two fur mantles, 
and twenty-four ells of purple cloth, valued at £44 5s. 1 The. same Master James 
was still in attendance at the court during the reign of James II., in 1453, when 
he was receiving a salary at the rate of £20 per annum. - 

Another physician mentioned in the reign of James II. is Christian Leche, 
who in 1444 received £3 6s. 8d. for the cure of a friend of the king dwelling with 
Lord Colin Campbell, 3 and to whom the rents of Scoulogmore were regularly 
allowed. 4 

A person who occupied a more prominent place in the court circles of James II. 
and James III. was a physician who boldly assumed to himself the classic name 
of Serapion (perverted by the good folk of Edinburgh into Ciriapion). He received 
regular pavments of £20 per annum ; 5 and, in addition, there is mention of various 
gifts, such as a horse, saddle and bridle, costing £3 8s., given him by James II. 
in 1460, 6 and 30s. for drugs supplied to Queen Mary of Gueldres in 1462. 7 In 
1460 he had to be summoned to St. Ninians, for which he received a fee of £4 10s. 8 
He may have been the royal physician, not mentioned by name, but described as 
" of Venice," to whom a special payment of £15 was made in 1455. 9 

David Crannoch was a physician who obtained a box of drugs and chemicals 
for King James II., for which he received a payment of £20 in 1457, as well as a fee 
for his services. 10 

A physician who had followed Queen Mary from Gueldres, received a fee of 
£10 in 1461, 11 and Serapion appears to have been succeeded in regular employment 
at the court by Master William, a physician (probably William Schevez), who 
received two payments of £25 in the year 1466. 12 

A certain Dr. Andrews, who is described as a doctor and physicus, and who had 
acquired a reputation in the Low Countries as a soothsayer, spent some time at the 
Scottish court in the reign of King James III. He affords an illustration of the great 
amount of intercourse which went on at this time between Scotland and the 
Netherlands. In 1470-71, he was in attendance as a physician on the Scottish 
court, and received a salary at the rate of £20 a year. 13 A gown of French black 
was provided for him by the king's command. 11 There is a record that he 
was fetched to Scotland at the king's command by David Whitehead and Thorn 
of Stanley, to whom a sum of £16 was paid in 1473 for their travelling expenses and 
other fees in this connection. 15 

1 "Exchequer Rolls o( Scotland," Vol. IV., p. 679. 

* Op. cit., Vol. V, p. 586. 

3 Op. cit., Vol. V., p. 173. 

4 Op. cit., Vol. V., pp. 164, 167, etc. 

5 Op. cit., Vol. VI., pp. 3, 12, etc. 
" Op. cit., Vol. VI., p. 641, 

' Op. cit., Vol. Vll., p. 150. 
" Op. cit., Vol. VI., p. 625. 

• Op. cit., Vol. VI., p. r>. 

10 Op. cit., Vol. VI., p. 309. 

11 Op. cit., Vol. VII., p. 49. 

1 2 Op. cit., Vol. VII., pp. 423, 424. 
" Op. cit., Vol. VIII., p. 124. 

1 1 "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer for Scotland," Vol. I., p. 48. 

15 Op cit., p. 69. 



At a later date, when he was back again in the Low Countries, he was visited 
in 1477 by Scottish ambassadors sent by their king to Charles, Duke of Burgundy, on 
behalf of some Scottish merchants who had been disturbed in their trade. Andrews, 
having entertained the Scotsmen to supper, advised them not to make undue 
haste on their embassy, for, as he said, in a few days they would hear news of the 
Duke which would render their journey unnecessary. Three days later the Duke's 
army was defeated by the Swiss at Nantz in Lorraine, and the Duke was killed, 1 
thus strengthening the reputation of Andrews as a soothsayer. Another prediction 
attributed to him in Scotland was his warning to James III. that a lion would 
be killed by his whelps, 2 which as regarded James, was fulfilled when the king 
was murdered at Sauchie after the battle with the Scottish barons led by his son. 

The best known medical practitioner of the 15th century in Scotland was William 
William Schevez (circa 1428-1497). 3 His career gives a good idea of a mediaeval ^hu^h 2 ' 
cleric practising the art of medicine. He was a man of somewhat humble origin and physi- 
who belonged to Fifeshire, and whose brother was proprietor of Gilquhas before 1475, cian 
and later Provost of St. Andrews. William Schevez studied at the University of 
St. Andrews, which had been founded some forty years previously, and afterwards 
at the celebrated University of Louvain. In the latter school he was instructed 
especially by John Spernic, a celebrated physician and astrologer, who was later 
rector of the University of Louvain and " medicinae doctor et physicus." 4 

After returning to Scotland, Schevez practised medicine and was at least His interest 
interested in astrology, which was then a pastime of the curious and a matter m astr0 ogy 
of faith with the credulous. The interest of Schevez in astrology is indicated 
by the fact that, in 1491, Jasper Laet dedicated to him his book on astrology, 
in which he refers to Schevez as proficient in every kind of literature, profound 
in learning, the founder at great expense of a valuable library in St. Andrews, 
filled with books of every kind, and one who had brought from the darkness of 
obscurity the mathematical sciences which, through the negligence of the Scots, 
had become nearly forgotten. 5 

For a time, apparently in earlier life, Schevez acted as Master of the Hospital 
at Brechin, 6 and in this capacity, he probably attracted the royal notice by his 
medical abilities. 

By the year 1471, Schevez was practising as a physician at the court of King His practice 
James III., where he had an annuity of £20. He received this salary during four 
years, although, by 1474, he had been appointed Archdeacon of St. Andrews. 7 
He still continued to order " certane potigarriis " for the king, and he prescribed 
§reen ginger for Kirkcaldy and Wille Pringill at different times. 8 Schevez was 

1 Buchanan : " History of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1753, Vol. II., p. 76. 

2 Buchanan : Op. cit., p. 77. 

• For an account of the life of Schevez, see Herkless and Hannay, " Archbishops of St. Andrews," Edinburgh, 1907, 

Vol. I., p. 80 et seq. 

4 Buchanan : " History of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1752, Vol. II., p. 74- 

5 Lyon : " History of St. Andrews," Edinburgh, 1843, Vol. II., p. 343. 

* Register of the Great Seal, II., 1358. 

7 " Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. VIII., pp. 120, 190, 253. 

' "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer for Scotland," Vol I., pp. 21, 23. 

8 4 




apparently on such intimate terms with His Majesty King James III. that he 
looked after his wardrobe and other personal affairs, making payment, for example, 
for " the sewing of the king's sarks," for the purchase of velvet, and for the silver 
ornaments of the harness of three of the king's horses. 1 At the same time, the king 
bestowed various intimate gifts on Schevez, such as oats for his two horses, chamlot 
for his gowne, and velvet to make a doublet. 2 

On his appointment at St. Andrews, according to Buchanan, 3 Schevez 
immediately came into collision with Bishop Patrick Graham, who refused 
to admit him to the archdeaconry ; but by 12th July, 1474, Schevez had paid 
the dues and was firmly established in the post. He had been a fellow-student 
with Graham at St. Andrews, and the latter, some years later, formed an interesting 
mental case under the care of Schevez. 

In addition to his clerical duties at St. Andrews, Schevez was made Provost 
of the Church of Crichton, and he continued to act as a notary public and to sign 
documents for the king. 4 As an archdeacon, he sat in the Scottish Parliament. 
By 1476 he was acting as vicar-general, although still attending to the business of 
the king, and during an investigation which in that year took place into the 
conduct of Archbishop Patrick Graham, he was appointed coadjutor to carry on 
the duties in the See of St. Andrews. When, as a result of the investigation, Graham 
was deposed in 1478, Schevez became his natural successor, acceptable to both the 
king and the pope, and was duly appointed Archbishop of St. Andrews. 

Medal Struck in 1491, showing Bust of William Schevez 

(From a cast in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 

During the latter part of his life Schevez had a stormy course to steer. The 
general regard in which he was held, as well as his ecclesiastical position, exempted 
him from the fate of Cochrane, Rogers and the other favourites of James III., who 

1 " Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer for Scotland," Vol. I., pp. 18, 28. 

' "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. VI II., p. 182 ; and "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer for Scotland," 
Vol. I., pp. 56, 58. 

3 Buchanan : "History of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1752, Vol. II., p. 74- 

4 Hcrkless and Hannay : " Archbishops of St. Andrews," Edinburgh, 1907, Vol. I., p. 86. 



were summarily hanged at Lauder in the rebellion of Archibald Bell-the-Cat and his 
fellow-conspirators. Schevez appears to have been consistently loyal to James III. 
in his difficulties, and when this king was murdered at Sauchie in 1488, Schevez 
came under a cloud in the early years of James IV. 1 He seems before long, however, 
to have gained the favour of James IV., and, in 1491, was appointed by the pope 
Primate of Scotland and legatus natus of the Holy See. On this occasion a medal 
was struck which shows the bust of Schevez. He died on 28th January, 1497. 

A great love of books was a distinguishing feature of this cleric who, in his His library 
early days, paid special attention to the practice of medicine, and who rose to be 
the Primate of Scotland. He apparently founded a library in the University of 
St. Andrews, of which a few books, mainly theological, are still extant. The 
extent of the efforts made by Archbishop Schevez in the collection of his library 
is indicated by the large sum of 500 gold crowns (£141 13s. 4^.) paid on his 
behalf by Andrew Halyburton, Scottish agent at Middleburgh, in Flanders, to 
Master James Watson for books brought to Schevez from Flanders in the 
year 1493 . 2 Two of his medical works are preserved, one in the British Museum 
and another in Edinburgh University Library. These are manuscripts of great 
beauty, and as Schevez had the foresight, rare in the Middle Ages, of writing 
his name in the books which belonged to him, the identity of these is readily 

The British Museum medical manuscript is a vellum MS., octavo size, of the His medical 
13th century, and of Flemish origin, beautifully bound in stamped leather with books 
blind tooling. 3 It was evidently a cherished handbook of Archbishop Schevez 
which he had probably brought back with him from Louvain, and is a collection 
of four medical tracts translated from the Greek into Latin. These are : (1) The 
Antidotariuin of Nicolaus ; (2) the Lyber Graduum by the same author, which is 
an alphabetically-arranged list of remedies with remarks on the cases for which 
they are applicable ; (3) the Lyber Aureus of Johannis Afflaticius, the son of 
Constantine ; and (4) an Antidotarium giving a list of remedies. These works 
had been produced by teachers of the school of Salerno. 

The following translations from passages in the manuscript give an idea of 
the remedies used by Schevez and others who practised medicine in Scotland in 
the 15th century. The first two paragraphs, taken from the Antidotarium of 
Nicolaus, deal with the method of treating an abscess : — 

Medicine for maturing an abscess. Place lard and turpentine resin in water, emulsify A'nti- 
and dissolve them ; when this has begun to boil, add balls (?) of wheat and place this dotarium 
in a bag, spun from the linen plant, upon the parts which have been already steamed from 
a sponge. For the same, take mistletoe and fenugreek boiled with sorrel ; this is of 
advantage when applied. Garlic and soda ground with honey and applied is also 

Medicine for rupturing an abscess : Rub up frankincense and sandarac with lime 
and honey and apply. Powder of woad with French soap boiled to a thick consistency 
works wonderfully. 1 

1 Frascr: "The Lennox," Edinburgh, 1874, Vol. II., p. 128. 

• " Ledger of Andrew Halyburton, 1492-1503," Edinburgh, 1867, p. 6. 

3 British Museum, Additional MS. 26622. 

4 MS. 26622, i. 30 r. 


Lyber The following paragraphs dealing with opium, salices, sulphur and ginger 

r uum are £ a k en f rom Lyber Graduum by the same author and give an idea of the 
materia medica of important drugs. Some of the remedies whose uses are detailed 
in a similar full manner are amber, almond, anise, alum, arsenic, antimony, betony, 
camomile, cassia, crocus, coral, colocynth, camphor, caraway, cardamoms, calx, 
hellebore, euphorbium, iron, gentian, gladiola, iris, lily, lapis lazuli, manna, 
mastic, mint, mummy, magnetic stone, nitrum, nasturtium, opoponax, pepper, 
tar, rue, storax, sumach, sandalwood, staphisagria, sagapenum, mustard, terra 
sigillata and violet. 

Opium, cold in the 4th degree or in the 2nd, when it is taken in the form of a chickpea 
it stupifies the sense of a man so that he cannot feel, and calls forth sleep ; it is useful for 
people with a cough, and it is given in modified doses for those showing added dissolution. 
Nevertheless, when a large quantity of it has been taken, the height of the natural warmth 
is extinguished, especially in those whose natural warmth is defective, and when it is 
accidentally taken by them without tasting ; for to these it is fatal. But a little opium 
with oil of roses rubbed into the forehead relieves choleric headache when it is present 
without catarrh ; mixed with almond oil and a little wax or myrrh and dropped into the 
ears, it relieves earache ; it is moderated with vinegar and used in a plaster to extinguish 
the burning of erysipelas ; in a plaster with milk and warm wax, it removes the pain of 
gout. Mandrake does the same thing. 1 

Salices (willow bark), cold in the 2nd degree or in the 1st, it is useful for pain of the 
liver ; it is placed in the ears warmed ; its juice consolidates wounds ; its bark burned 
and modified with vinegar helps warts and scabs. The milk of the bark from willows 
bearing flowers clears the vision and comforts defective eyes ; the juice of the young 
shoots and fruit taken in large drafts by a woman prevents conception, and drunk moderately 
checks bleeding. 2 

Sulphur, warm and dry in the 4th degree ; warm 5 oz. of sulphur ; it matures a long- 
continued fever and cough ; it gets rid of matter from the chest ; mixed with vinegar 
it cures scabies, impetigo and alopecia. Moreover, if a tree of lemons is smoked with it 
all the lemons fall ; a rose or red clothes smoked with it become of a white colour. Mixed 
with honey and soda, it is useful against chronic scabies, pustules and itching ; injected, it 
prevents the sweat of a sick man ; mixed with soda and water, it alleviates the gout. 
Aristotle said that sulphur water for washing the body was good against the pustules of 
scabies and impetigo. It cures the bites of reptiles and of the lion, long-continued fevers, 
melancholy and pain. It stops discharges which prevent conception. 3 

Ginger, warm in the 3rd degree and moist in the 1st degree : it dissolves flatulence 
in the intestines and makes the belly moist. Two parts of it with two of sugar purges 
viscous humours, increases desire, helps the food to warm the stomach, dries up super- 
fluous moisture of the stomach caused by fish or fruits. This can be replaced by white 
or long pepper. 4 

Lyber The Lyber Aureus of Johannis Afflaticius, the son of Constantine, begins with 

Aureus a i Qn g accoun j- () f various nervous diseases, such as headache, inflammation of 

the brain, apoplexy, paralysis, tetanus, tremor, lethargy, frenzy, deafness, neuralgia. 

It is interesting to note that this part of the MS. shows marks of much usage and 

1 British Museum, Additional MS. 26622, f. 98 v. 

2 MS. 26622, f. 104 v. 

3 MS. 26622, f. 107 v. 

4 MS. 26622, f . 111 r. 


8 7 

has a bookmark permanently turned in at the beginning of the sections dealing 
with nervous diseases. Its owner apparently paid special attention to this 
department of medicine. 

Various articles follow on colic, vomiting, hiccup, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, 
cessation of the menses, difficult parturition, leprosy, a long article on hectic fever, 
and a still longer article upon the appearances of the urine in various diseases. 
The following is a translation of the paragraph on inflammation of the brain : — 

On inflammation (of the brain) : There is another disease, which is called inflammation 
of the brain, in which the passages of the brain are opened beyond measure. This disease 
is very bad so that it kills men within seven days. If, however, they escape these, the 
following are the signs of this disease : Swelling with inflammation, the temples raised, 
the hearing obtuse, veins dilated and pulsating, fever, pain, neither greater nor less redness 
in the countenance, the eyes protrude as in strangling, the face swells with the whole head, 
the back and neck suffer at times from the same swelling, the skin crackles and sometimes 
vesicles appear as if from a burn. These people are bled with difficulty from the cephalic 
vein and much blood is extracted ; then, if the strength permits, veins are opened round 
about the nostrils or under the tongue or the vein which lies along the great toe. Wine 
and oil of roses is placed upon the head, the head is shaved and a plaster applied with 
bread or flour boiled with oil and water, or of linseed similarly boiled. Let the bowels 
be gently opened, and, because in this disease the voice is lost from pain, let the patients 
be treated as described under quinsy. A diuretic also helps to this end. If pain arises 
from constipation of the passages, let the patient be anointed with oil of camomile or rue 
or laurel. Take the berries (of laurel) place them in water and boil ; collect the froth from 
llir surface, place it in the sun so that it may thicken, and this is the oil of laurel. If pain 
arises from a blow or a fall or from inflammation, anil no tumour appears on the surface, 
the condition is dangerous. Let the patient therefore be bled and receive a clyster directly, 
then let the head be fomented with sponges or wool steeped in warm oil ; those things 
help which we have mentioned as advantageous for inflammations. 1 

The following paragraph on the treatment of leprosy gives an idea of methods 
employed for this in the Middle Ages. The recourse which the author has to futile 
remedies like the ointment of serpents and the blood of a tortoise, shows the 
helplessness which then prevailed in dealing with this serious disease : — 

Oh leprosy. Leprosy is difficult to cure, for this reason, that when it is recognised it 
has already invaded the body for a long time. At the beginning, and if it can be recognised 
shortly after the beginning, it may be purged naturally thus : (then follows a prescription 
containing colocynth, squills, mushroom, scammony, hellebore, bdellium, aloes, hypericon 
leaves, cassia, pepper, cinnamon, myrrh, opoponax, petrosilinum, absinthe, euforbium, ginger, 
gentian and honey). Hierarusinum with scammony is of great use to lepers. An ointment 
extremely useful for this is as follows : three black serpents are caught, their heads and 
tails to the measure of three fingers are cut off and their middle portions burned in a new 
pot ; white soap and oil are added and they are rubbed up in a mortar until thick like 
honey. The material is applied for three days, and the part is washed. If any of the 
infirmity is left on the patient, cut oft the head of a tortoise, collect its blood and anoint 
the affected parts with a feather ; thereafter dig a pit, cover it with a cloth, light a fire in 
it, let the patient be thoroughly heated three times in the day, anil when he comes out 
let him be covered witli new clothing ; let this be done for two days and each time he 
comes out from the pit let him be anointed with an ointment. (Then follows a prescription 
for an ointment of salvia, rosemary, absinthe, etc., in lard or bear's grease.) 1 

1 British Museum, Additional MS. 26622, f. 114 v. 2 British Museum, Additional MS. 26622, f. 130 r. 



The manuscript of Archbishop Schevez preserved in Edinburgh University 
Library is a commentary by Geraldus de Solo on the " Ninth Book of Almansor," 
and is a Flemish MS. of the 15th century, specially copied for William Schevez. 
The " Ninth Book of Almansor," an Arabic writer, was, in Latin translations, a 
favourite text-book of this time, and is commented upon by various writers. 

It may be regarded, with its commentaries, as a useful and practical treatise 
on what would be called minor medicine at the present time. It is only when 
the writer comes to deal with diseases which he does not understand that he 
begins to prescribe remedies which appear, in the fuller knowledge of modern times, 
to be useless, fatuous, or absurd. This characteristic, however, is by no means 
confined to mediaeval writers on medicine. The book deals with the following 
subjects, as well as others of less importance, and after each short section of the 
original a commentary follows in the usual manner. 

It begins with headache and hemicrania, scotoma and vertigo, frenzy, paralysis, 
stupor, tremor and spasm. 

Epilepsy has a long portion of the book, and, in his remarks Almansor suggests 
that to prevent it the limb in which movement begins should be tightly bound ; 
that a sinapism on the affected part is of advantage ; that for vomiting in this 
condition a plaster of spikenard and rose applied to the stomach, and odorant wine 
given internally, are productive of benefit ; blood-letting is in general recommended 
and its appropriate sites indicated ; the patient is directed to abstain from llesh 
and wine and from everything which would generate much blood. Exercise and 
rubbing of the lower limbs are also commended. 

Other conditions described are melancholy, catarrh, ophthalmia (in connection 
with which directions are given how to reverse the upper lid). Pain in the ears, 
including tinnitus and deafness, epistaxis, loss of smell, and toothache (for which 
the writer mentions an application to loosen the teeth for a week before extraction 
is attempted). 

The book then goes on to give an account in different sections of various diseases, 
including disorders of the gums, tongue and mouth, quinsy, cough, asthma, pleurisy, 
pneumonia, haemoptysis, phthisis, tremor of the heart, disorders of the stomach 
(a long section), hiccup, jaundice, dropsy, pain in the spleen, iliac passion, diarrhoea, 
difficulty of urine, stone, hematuria, heat of urine, flux of urine, worms, haemo- 
rrhoids, prolapse of the rectum and uterus, excessive menstruation, modes of 
producing menstruation, abscess in the womb, ulcer and cancer of the womb, 
sterility, hernia, gout, curvature of the spine, varicose veins, elephantiasis and, 
finally, pains in the hands or feet. 

15th century While William Schevez was Archdeacon of St. Andrews, his advice and care 
funacy were rec l un " c d m the very difficult case of his ecclesiastical superior, Archbishop 

Patrick Graham. Graham had been a fellow-student at St. Andrews with Schevez 
in the years 145^ 1454. He was a nephew of James Kennedy, Bishop of 

MS. of 
de Solo 

yar^fcr- c^twct^* cw^fKj i|u<><? 

/WttWA^U^lU^ m^l 0 ^ «v" 

A<w, y^c<jsi(^ o* oft yof? 
mere &>W^r? trcr^pvtiC^i 

<2«> |uG>-v£i<vuS t »«.^t+- tf2 /Wo 
^t-cxc(>- ca, Pur cv <tc£uf 

tVM put AtVtOC i>Ji£it~c£u} 

{yiu^uu- C?£ <-ir-uc v.< tic 

j XT- f ^ 

1 1 

Ninth Book of Almansor, with Commentary by Geraldus de Solo 
15th century copy made for William Schevez. This page shows the signature of Schevez at the end of the second column 

(Edinburgh University MS.) 



St. Andrews, and a great-grandson of King Robert III. He thus started his 
career in the church with the most favourable auspices, at a time and in a country 
where family influence was all-important. Even as a student his path was 
smoothed by his creation as Canon of Aberdeen and Moray. 1 By 1463, when 
he was about twenty-five years old, he had been made Bishop of Brechin, and 
here again he probably came in contact with William Schevez, who was Master 
of the hospital in that town. In 1465 he became Bishop of St. Andrews on the 
recommendation of King James III. 

He showed no particular evidence of precocious intellectual or administrative 
ability, but from an early date attracted attention by attempts to attach numerous 
benefices to his own person, and by a readiness to quarrel with his subordinates. 
Malcolm Brydy, Abbot of Arbroath, complained bitterly in 1470 because of his 
imprisonment by Graham, and because Graham, at his visitations, had been 
accompanied by one hundred or even by two hundred horsemen, who wasted 
the goods and money of the abbey. For his conduct in this matter Graham 
was severely reproved by Pope Paul II., and admonished to abstain from 
presumptuous conduct. 

Next year Graham went to Rome to appeal against an Act of the Scottish 
Parliament which had been passed to invalidate the annexation of benefices after 
the accession of James III. It soon appeared that another and secret object had 
taken him to Rome, for, while in the Eternal City, he persuaded Sixtus IV., who 
was now pope, to elevate him to the dignity of Archbishop of St. Andrews, and, 
as the price for this, he agreed that a tithe of the incomes of all the Scottish clergy 
should be paid to the papal exchequer for the purpose of a crusade against the 
Turks. This negotiation was carried through without reference to the Scottish 
church, king, or parliament, and, in view of the storm raised by the publication 
of the papal bull, Graham loitered on the Continent till, in 1473, he was summoned 
by the king to appear before the council at Edinburgh. 

Complaints poured into Rome from the king, the chapter, the clergy, the 
University of St. Andrews and the people of this town and province, and Sixtus IV. 
was obliged, in 1476, to send John Huseman for the purpose of inquiring into the 
evidence against Graham, and to appoint three cardinals in Rome to consider 
the evidence in the case and to report. Graham's twenty years of self-seeking, 
quarrels and mismanagement appear to have been fully and impartially investigated 
by the commissioner, and the evidence scaled and sent to Rome. He was 
found guilty of heresy, schism, falsification of papal letters, simony, irregular life, 
blasphemy, celebration of masses while an excommunicated person, and perjury. 
The blasphemy had been repeated in the presence of Huseman, the commissioner, 
to whom Graham had declared that he was pope, the elect of God, and crowned 
by the angel to reform the church, and that his legates were to go to different 
parts of the world. 

1 llcrkless and Hamiay : " Archbishops of St. Andrews," Edinburgh, 1007, Vol. I., p. 15 



The cardinals recommended that he should be deposed and handed over to 
the secular power. The pope, perhaps out of compassion, perhaps largely because 
his own judgment, in having created Graham an archbishop, was impugned by 
the conduct of the latter, consented to the deposition, but declined to hand 
him over to the secular authorities. He therefore ordered Graham to be confined 
in a cloister where he might spend his time in penance and be kept from " wandering 
as a refugee to the cities and courts of princes or stirring up tumults." 

To William Schevez was entrusted the task of conveying the sentence to the 
deposed prelate, and of taking care of him in his retirement. He was placed first 
in the Monastery of Inchcolm under four attendants ; and three years later, in 
fear (if the arrival of an English fleet, he was taken to Dunfermline and thence 
to Loch Leven Castle, where he died and was buried in the consecrated soil of 
St. Serf's Island in that lake. 

Loch Leven Castle 

In which Patrick Graham was detained, and in which Mary, Queen of Scots, in the following century was imprisoned 

It is clear that in his prolonged succession of petty quarrels and tyranny, 
and in the display of complete incompetence to administer the duties of an exalted 
and sacred office, together with his attitude of regarding as enemies those who 
naturally opposed his schemes for personal aggrandisement, Graham would at the 
■resent day be regarded as a person of unsound mind. This was confirmed by 
his final delusion that he himself was pope and responsible neither to the people 
in his charge, to the king, nor to the papal See. Modern opinion would regard 
him as a paranoiac with delusions of persecution and of personality. It seems 
very fitting that he should have been consigned to the care of a medical supervisor 
possessing the ability and integrity which William Schevez showed; but the case 
illustrates the great difficulty of dealing with unsoundness of mind when it was 
displayed in high places during the Middle Ages. 



As Schevez was becoming presumably too much engrossed in his official 
clerical duties to carry on regular medical practice, he was succeeded as court 
physician, about the year 1480, by Master Conrad, who, till the end of the reign of 
James III., in 1488, received the recognised annual salary of £20 for this post, 
together with an allowance of £3 10s. for the maintenance of his horses. 1 

A medical In 1480, Master Michael Ker, who by his title is shown to have been a graduate 

i5th S century °^ a un i vers ity and probably a cleric, was sent abroad by the king to study medicine. 

He was granted an allowance of £20 yearly for three years, which was therefore 
the period regarded in the 15th century as necessary for obtaining the knowledge 
of medicine requisite for a physician. He received an extra grant of £9 us. 
in 1 48 1. 2 It is not stated what foreign schools he attended, but his training in 
the medical profession would consist in a course of reading old authorities on 
medicine under the guidance of some masters of the art, from whom he would 
at the same time obtain experience in practice. 

1 " Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. IX., pp. 75, 190, etc. 
• Op. cit., Vol. IX., pp. 69, 155, 2»9 

Chapter V 

Gaelic Medical Manuscripts and Hereditary 
Highland Physicians 

An important phase of early Scottish medicine is found in the Gaelic medical Scope of 

manuscripts which are preserved in some of the libraries of Ireland and Scotland. 1 „edica] 

The Scottish Celtic medical literature comprises over twenty manuscripts preserved literature 

in the National Library at Edinburgh, one in the Library of the Society of 

Antiquaries of Scotland, one in the Library of the University of Edinburgh, two in 

the British Museum, and several in private collections. They all possess this feature 

in common — that their substance is mainly of foreign origin, being translations 

made from Latin. Several of them are translations of medical treatises from 

the early Greek physicians and philosophers, and others from compilers of the 

Arabian school ; several of them are taken from authoritative treatises issued 

from the great mediaeval medical schools of Salerno and Montpelher. They 

were prepared for or by Gaelic physicians attached to the great nobles of the 

north of Scotland, and the oldest dated manuscript which could be found by 

Professor Mackinnon bore the date of 1403, although this authority admits 

that some of the undated translations may be earlier in origin. The greater 

number, however, date from the 16th century. They include such subjects 

as an abstract of Galen's Anatomy, anatomical descriptions taken from Galen, 

Avicenna, Lanfranc and Guy de Chauliac, chapters on wounds, attributed 

to John of Vigo, and frequent paragraphs devoted to blood-letting, 

with the veins appropriate to be opened and the proper seasons and days 

for the operation. 

The classification of diseases in some of the larger manuscripts is full and 
t elaborate, as well as the remedies prescribed for each disease. Questions 
of climate, diet, nursing and kindred topics are largely discussed, and in one 
I manuscript a chapter is devoted to the appropriate method of weighing 
and measuring drugs. Various cases are also included, and several theories 
believed to influence the health of the individual, such as the elements, 
the planets and the doctrine of the humours, are subjects of frequent and 
lengthy exposition and discussion. The margins of the manuscripts are 
frequently covered with notes, which have probably been added by the 
possessors of the manuscripts, dealing with the weather during the various 
months and the foods and drinks most suitable in each. 

1 Mackinnon : Report, 17th International Congress of Medicine, Section XXIII. London, 1913, p. 401. See 

also "A Descriptive Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere 111 

Scotland," by Donald Mackinnon, M.A., Edinburgh, 1912 ; also George Mackay, M.D., " Ancieut Gaelic Medical 
Manuscripts," in Caledonian Medical Journal, October, 1904. 



These manuscripts mainly belonged to two families, who practised medicine in Highland 
the Highlands of Scotland for several centuries. The first of these bears the name medical 

° i ii • t families 

of MacBheathadh, which means the " son of life," a very happy name for a 
physician. The name later came to be written in Latin, Betonus or Beaton, and 
in its modern form Macbeth. 

The name of this family appears to occur for the first time in the Book of 
Deer, nth century, as Macbead. 1 An early member of the family settled in Islay 
in the days of Robert Bruce, and is said to have obtained so great a reputation 

Signature of Fergus Macbeth to the Islay Charter of 1408 

(Original in H.M. Register House, Edinburgh) 

that he was summoned to the bedside of the King of Scotland and effected a cure 
when the court physicians had failed. One of his descendants, Farquhar, who 
is described as Medicus Regis, obtained a grant of the lands of Melness and Hope 
from Alexander Stuart, " The Wolf of Badenoch," in 1379, and Ferchard Leche, 
Farquliar the Physician, had a large grant of islands, including Jura and its neigh- 
bouring islets, from King Robert II. in 1386. Fergus Macbeth (Fergus the Fair), 
in 1408, was a witness of the Islay Charter 2 from Donald, Lord of the Isles, who 
was defeated at Harlaw in 141 1. The physician signed and probably engrossed 
the whole charter, the other three witnesses merely making their marks. Others 
of the name were scattered over various parts of the Highlands during the next 
three centuries. 

1 Gillies : " Regimen Sanitatis," a Gaelic Medical Manuscript, Glasgow, 191 1 p. 3. 
! Caledonian Medical Journal, April, 1902, and July, 1902. 


A member of the Beaton family practising in the Island of Mull had an alarming 
experience in the year 1588. The treasure ship " Florida " of the Spanish 
Armada, which had escaped the pursuit of the English fleet by sailing round the 
north of Scotland, put in at Tobermory Bay. Some trouble arose between the 
Spaniards and the Islanders, and a man Smallet, of Dumbarton, undertook to blow 
up the ship. Dr. Beaton was on board and happened to be sitting on the upper 
deck when the magazine exploded. The deck " was blown up entire, and thrown 
a good way off, yet the Doctor was saved and liv'd several years after." 1 


which beloved to Malcolm M'Beath or Skye. and shows a later scribal note inserted between two paragraphs 

(National Library of Scotland, MS. II.) 

The other hereditary medical family was that of the McConachers 
of Lorn, of whom there are records as early as 1530. One of these, 
Duncan McConacher, with the help of friends, made a copy of Bernard 
Gordon's " Lilium Medicinal," in 1596-1597, and commenced in 1598 a treatise 

1 Martin : " Description of the Western Islands of Scotland," London, 1703, p. 254. 




which was to be an epitome of the teaching of Avicenna. Duncan was 
the possessor of a copy of the treatise on materia medica, preserved in the National 
Library, containing references to 312 articles. This is the most complete copy 
of the treatise, which is repeated several times among the Gaelic medical manu- 
scripts, and upon which the Gaelic physicians placed great value. Other copies 
of it are to be found in the British Museum, the National Library, etc. 1 The copy 
of this treatise possessed by John Beaton is described below and is illustrated 
in the Frontispiece. A later member of the Conacher family, Donald O'Conacher, 
seems to have been so celebrated as a physician that, in 1639, he was brought 
for a consultation to the town of Irvine. 

The manuscripts on Gaelic medicine still preserved in Scotland arc some Surviving 
30 in number, of which the majority are in the National Library at Edinburgh. 
A few of these manuscripts have found their way to other countries and are MSS. 
preserved in the British Museum and libraries on the Continent. The following 
is a brief summary of the medical manuscripts in Scotland, 2 while a fuller account 
is given of two of those preserved, respectively, in the National Library and in the 
library of the University of Edinburgh. 

National Library of Scotland MS. II. This is a collection of fragments of 
several MSS. of various dates, containing 148 leaves, which apparently belonged 
to Malcolm M'Beath of Skye, and at a later time to Duncan M'Conacher. Various 
disorders such as leprosy, wounds, hydrophobia and epilepsy are treated, and 
the school of Salerno is several times mentioned. 

National Library of Scotland MS. IV. This is a small vellum MS. with 
99 leaves, measuring only 2|-Xif in. It was also at one time the property of the 
M'Beath family, and dates in part from about 1450. It deals largely with 
medical definitions. 

National Library of Scotland MS. IX. This is a single leaf containing a 
prescription for strangury, and a genealogy of the MacDougalls of Dunolly. 

National Library of Scotland MS. X. This is a large parchment MS., 
15X io.\ in., written in double column with 50 lines or more to the page. It refers 
jto many of the classic and Arabic writers on medicine, and appears to be 
Dargely based upon Bernard Gordon's " Lilium Medicine " before this book 
came into general circulation. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XL This consists of four parch- 
ment folios, 11 X 8J in., written in double column in a small hand. 
It deals largely with the Aphorisms of Hippocrates and commentaries 
upon them. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XII. This consists of 21 parchment leaves 
ii large quarto size, and is mainly concerned with anatomy and diet. 

1 For accounts of this treatise on materia mcdira, see paper by Sir Norman Moore in Bartholomew Hospital Reports, 
Vol XI., also extracts by Dr. H. C Gillies, Caledonian Medical Journal, Vol. VIII., pp. 102, 143. 

* See Mackinnon : " A Descriptive Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere 
p Scotland," Edinburgh, 1912. 


9 8 


National Library of Scotland MS. XIII. This contains portions of six 
different MSS. of various sizes. It refers to numerous classical and Arabic 
medical writers, and is partly medical and partly metaphysical. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XIV. This consists of 16 leaves of large 
quarto size and deals mainly with the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XVII. This consists of three leaves of 
parchment, large folio size, and is a commentary on the medical maxims of Isodore. 

— „ — — 

I 1 — — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ f: — ' — ' — 1 

Gaelic Medical Manuscript 
It shows the frame-work of an initial letter intended to be illuminated 
(National Library of Scotland MS. X.) 

National Library of Scotland MS. XVIII. This consists of 16 leaves of paper 
in double column. It is part of a copy of Bernard Gordon's " Lilium Medicinas." 

National Library of Scotland MS. XX. This is a fragment consisting of s : ~ 
parchment leaves of large folio size, written in double column, and is of late date, 



probably towards the end of the 17th century. It gives detailed recipes for 
various diseases and quotes many recognised ancient authorities. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXI. This consists of eight leaves of 
parchment, folio size, in double column, and deals with part of the Aphorisms 
of Hippocrates, citing various ancient authorities in the commentaries. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXII. This consists of eight leaves of 
parchment, folio size, and continues the treatise on the maxims of Isodore 
commenced in MS. XVII. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXIII. This consists of six leaves of 
parchment, small folio size, written in double column, and further continues the 
maxims of Isodore. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXV. This consists of four parchment 
leaves, small quarto size, and deals largely with matters of diet. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXVI. This consists of six leaves of 
parchment, quarto size, written in double column, and deals with such subjects 
as carbuncles, boils, elephantiasis, morphea, etc., also with the foods suitable for 
each month of the year, and with sleep. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXVII. This consists of five leaves of 
parchment, small folio size. Paragraphs of Arnold, Egidius, Ebe Mesue and other 
writers are quoted. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XXXIII. This contains a parchment MS. of 
eight leaves, small folio size, and another of paper, quarto size. The first belonged 
to John MacBeath, in 1700, and deals largely with diet. The second part contains 
an anatomical tract based on Galen's Anatomy, a copy of the " Schola Salernitana," 
and an elaborate treatise on urine. 

National Library of Scotland MS. XLI. This consists of 14 small parchment 
leaves, containing Latin maxims on diet from Hippocrates, with commentaries 
in Gaelic. 

National Library of Scotland MS. LX. This is a large manuscript of paper, 
quarto size, containing 476 pages. It was written by Angus O'Conacher between 
161 1 and 1641. This was one of a family living at Kilmore, who grew medicinal 
herbs in a garden near their house. The MS. contains numerous personal memoranda, 
and includes various contents written apparently with the idea of compressing a small 
medical cyclopaedia into one volume. Anatomy, fevers, diseases of the eye, etc., are 
treated. Pages 126 to 154 contain a complete copy of the celebrated Latin poem 
known as the " Schola Salernitana." This is succeeded by a treatise on the 
urine, followed by a short treatise on wounds made by bullets, taken apparently 
from John of Vigo, an early writer on this subject. A short treatise on diets 
and another on drugs are also included, as well as a copy of the treatise on materia 
fnedica, which is described in MS. III. Some 40 authorities are cited throughout 
the MS., such as Galen, Avicenna, Hippocrates, Aristotle, Rhazes, etc. 


National Library of Scotland Skene MS. A medical MS., which is apparently a 
continuation of MS. XVIII. (vide supra); it is a copy of a Gaelic version of part 
of Bernard Gordon's " Lilium Medicinae." It apparently dates from the year 1511. 

0 « j*| pKtt^i; cap 1 1! rr. a • bTui *wn*M 


15th century, showing first page. (See also Frontispiece) 
(National Library of Scotland MS. III.) 

Treatise on National Library of Scotland MS. III. (which is illustrated in the Frontispiece) 

materia j g attributed by Professor Mackinnon to the 15th century — part of it to the 
early years in that century. It belonged to John Beaton of the famous family 
of physicians. This forms, up to folio 80a, a copy of a treatise on materia medica, 




including articles of animal, vegetable and mineral sources, which the physicians 
of the Middle Ages used for medicinal purposes. It is one of five Gaelic copies 
of this treatise, of which two copies are found in the British Museum, and 
a third is MS. LX. of the National Library, Edinburgh, the last copy having 
been written by Angus O'Conacher about the year 1611. 

The list of articles is arranged alphabetically under their Latin names, the 
Latin names being written in capitals and coloured red, while the initial letter is 
elaborately drawn. The descriptions of the various substances are written on a 
uniform plan ; the name is given first in Latin and then in Gaelic ; then follow 
the " quality " and " degree," and the medicinal properties of the substance, 
either by itself or in composition with other drugs. Frequently anecdotes and folk 
beliefs are mentioned; for example, in reference to conium, it is mentioned that 
this is the herb that killed Socrates. Numerous authorities are quoted, especially 
Platearius of Salerno, and also Avicenna, Constantinus, Ebe Mesue, Isaac, Rhazes, 
Galen, Hippocrates, Macer, Gilbertus, Dioscorides, Averroes and Alexander. 

The following two examples give an idea of its contents : — 

Iris, i.e., gloiriam. It has three names : ireos, glaidinus and iris. The flower of iris 
is purple, while that of ireos is white, and of glaidinus saffron colour. This plant is hot 
and dry in the second degree. If its root is gathered in the end of spring it preserves its 
virtue for two years. It has a laxative diuretic virtue, and removes the obstructions 
of the spleen, the kidneys and the bladder. It is a powerful remedy against troubles of 
the spiritual organs, and stomach ailments that proceed from flatulence. Its powder 
put on sores checks proud flesh and cleans them, etc. 

/tpoil* nt>'U» iiamoot 

V» jjjimlinapfttli if; 

MlcCTnqm.-)<np»;.u' 1 
ipipfiepc nullnj-njiM 


Iff 11 fit •mmwpjyt 0a 

" aoyqnxf '■■umArnxtn.Mi 
Mhj ft am i ifiTitf al-npT 
i"mi!o!fo vP>mfnci,W 
il.Kip Itrt^UBtbll 

nse vmrru MMEfca 

nenrunc innrqtftmcc 
ibuj- cy mm pnisnw 

ii/lm .hid mu l M [f- j^ijn 

c<jmbpii5 Bin i>O()\j|i05 

f muctft son*!" 1 1 " 11 


jrjwi^moVl" 10 


' pwmnydprinrJi; ""r J'op 
' ij^dHjanomiTtyuili nxfl 
Oucjtit 5.B1I1KH ^tnfifsS 

iu-itr |»iiu:rtij «pJW.ii 

sftO ««r< "V* 1 ' W WWI 
fnpibv 1 uWl*«r «fnr<i 

Gaelic Medical Manuscript of the 15th Century 

(Preserved in the University of Edinburgh Library) 



Margarita, i.e., a pearl. This stone is cold, dry, and is found in a shell. And it grows 
in this way : When the shell opens it takes in its fill of poisonous dew, closes around it, 
and turns it into stone. The pearl that has a natural hollow in it is best, if also white. 
It is comforting in heart affections, and is put in electuaries. And if you wish to make 
the pearl white, give it to a pet pigeon to eat, and let it be left in its crop (stomach) for 
three or four hours. Then cut up the bird and remove the stone, and it will be pure, 
clear, brilliant thereafter. 

J ohn , Of the medical MSS. in other libraries, the most important is the Beaton 

vade-mecum Medical MS. in Edinburgh University Library. 

Laing Coll. MS. No. 21. The medical MS. preserved in the library of the 
University of Edinburgh is a vellum MS. of in leaves of small quarto size, 6x4! m - 
It is bound in boards covered with skin and fastened by two silver clasps which are 
now broken. An entry on folio 546 states that this portion of the MS. was written 
by Cairpre O'Cendamhain for John M'Beath, and another entry on folio 85a, 
dated 1657, was written by Donald M'Beath. Another entry, dated 1587, states 

Beaton Memorial Cross of 158 2, at Pennycross, Mull 

that " this is the book of Malcolm, son of (inlanders, son of Donald M'Beath," 
but the original text is much older, and, as it belonged to the grandfather of the 
possessor in 1587, this puts its original production back into the 15th century. I 
In still another place, folio 103a, it is said to be the book of Fergus Veagh, I 
living at Pennycross in Mull. Here the site of the doctor's house is still pointed I 
out, and a cross with the date 1582, and the inscription " (i.M.B., D.M.B.," 
the initials of two of the Macbeth family. 

The MS. begins with a calendar and astrological table covering nine folios. I 
Folios IO-85 are medical, beginning with fevers, and the appearances of the urine 
in relation to diagnosis are treated in great detail. The style of the book is that I 
frequently followed in mediaeval treatises : paragraphs begin with a striking Latin ■ 
sentence followed by a commentary in Gaelic. Bernard Gordon's " Lilium Medicinas" : 
seems to have formed the basis for the work. It evidently was a kind of vade-mecum 

fjwfz> a/p»p pp m f?cL- ' TM\*»'n)-f^FAt wnhk «*jp 

ZWfcm <*5 ^ 4n-1- p<q&rl Up T>wfa&? r* m Ut$_ 

ran Tp'tf 

llf"" «»rfL Mi cAy ve> tja aceffif ssayp. uflfhatil 

Gaelic Medical Manuscript 
Showing pace 1 7 1 of late translation of Bernard Gordon's "Lilium Medicinae," made about 1630 
(Original in Library of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland) 


The " Li Hum 

Mcdicinae " 




which John Macbeth carried about with him, and to which additions were made by 
him and his successors as further experience and knowledge rendered desirable. 
After folio 85 there are various notes containing signs of life and death, astrological 
matters and pedigrees of the Macbeth family. 

Six families of Macbeth are traced back to a common ancestor, Fergus the 
Fair, and he in turn is traced back to an individual, Beatha, who lived in 
the neighbourhood of Dublin, and who was descended from Neill of the 
Nine Hostages, monarch of Ireland. Beatha, in highland tradition, emigrated 
from Ireland when Lady O'Kane married Angus Og of Islay, the friend and 
supporter of Robert Bruce. 

In the library of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is an MS. in Gaelic 
of the "Lilhim Medicinae" by Bernard Gordon. This is a thick paper folio of 714 
pages, bound in calf. It was sent to the Society by the Rev. Donald Macqueen, 
of Kilmuir, Skye, in 1784. This copy of the "Lilium Medicinae" is almost complete 
and dates from the early 17th century, about 1630. The price paid for transcription 
is said to have been 60 milk cows, and this was by no means an extravagant fee 
for what is a well written MS. It belonged originally to Farchar Beaton of Husibost 
in Skye, and was by him so greatly valued that when he had, in the course of 
professional visitations, to cross an arm of the sea by boat, he was accustomed to 
send his book in the hands of a servant round by land for greater security. 

The late Professor Mackinnon possessed two Gaelic medical MSS. of which 
one was an imperfect copy of the treatise on materia medica already described 
(vide supra), consisting of 13 leaves, dating from the late 15th century. The 
other was a fragment consisting of three parchment leaves containing a summary 
of the treatise of Magister Ricairdi, dating from the late 16th century. 

The British Museum contains at least two Gaelic medical MSS. Of these, 
one (Additional MS. 15582), consisting of 62 vellum folios in good preservation, 
contains a commentary on the Regimen Sanitatis of Salerno. It seems to have 
belonged originally to John Macbeth, and to have been a valued heirloom in this 
family. It was written for him by David Kearny in the year 1563. 1 

The second MS. is another book of the Macbeth family (Additional MS. 
15403), also on vellum, which is a copy of the treatise on materia medica to which 
reference is made elsewhere. 

1 Mackinnon : ' A Descriptive Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere 
in Scotland," p. 14. This was published in facsimile by H. C. Gillies, Glasgow, 1911. 

Chapter VI 

Medi/eval Scottish Hospitals 

The small hospitals established in Scotland from the Scoto-Saxon period up Nature 

to the time of the Reformation were very great in number. Manv of these were ? f ear i y n 

, . ■ hospitals 

founded by pious persons, lasted for a few generations, and passed into desuetude 

or decay. Others, especially those connected with the larger religious houses, 

enjoyed a more permanent existence. The hospital was usually a small institution, 

drawing its revenue from lands which were often situated in distant counties, 

and it must have been difficult, after the interest of the original founder had ceased, 

to collect these revenues and to prevent their misappropriation. 

Various place names in Scotland preserve the memory of a previous hospital 
where the structure and all its associations have totally disappeared. The name 
Spital is not uncommon, and such combinations as Spitalheld, Spitalhaugh and 
Spitalhill are frequently found. It must not be assumed, however, that such 
a name invariably designates the site of a previous hospital, as the place indicated 
by such a name may have been the locality from which the hospital revenues were 
drawn, or which had some similar connection with a distant institution. 

The early Scottish hospitals were of various types. Of these the commonest 
was the hospital or infirmary maintained by every abbey, priory and other large 
institution for the treatment of its dependents and guests. Several well-known 
hospitals, like that of Soutra, were placed on dangerous or desolate roads, and these, 
with their religious attendants, afforded the same assistance to travellers and 
pilgrims as are afforded by the hospices found, for example, among the Alps in recent 
times. In various parts of the country where religious houses existed, and where 
there was accordingly a possibility of obtaining medical supervision, hospitals 
were established by nobles of the state or church. Nomination to the benefits 
of these hospitals naturally remained in the families of the founders, for the succour 
of retainers who had become wounded or worn out in their service. 

Collegiate churches, of which between 30 and 40 existed in mediaeval 
Scotland, had usually a number of bedesmen who served the double purpose of 
saying prayers for the soul of the founder, and of acting as recipients of his charity. 1 
These bedesmen were, in general, persons rendered unfit for active life by illness, 
'who were maintained in easy circumstances in a hospital attached to the church. 
Most of these collegiate churches were situated in the towns. 

Special hospitals also existed as, for example, those which had been established 
for the segregation of lepers. 

1 Keith : " An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 465. 



Their decay 
and loss of 

Attempts at 

Long before the time of the Reformation there were great complaints in regard 
to the malversation of funds which had been left for the endowment of hospitals. 
As already mentioned, the 13th century was a period of great prosperity in southern 
Scotland ; education flourished, many religious houses were established, and pious 
and beneficent donors endowed hospitals for the relief of the sick and poor. 
During the weak and troubled reigns of Robert II. and Robert III., the king 
was unable to control the great territorial families. 

Unlike the case of England, in Scotland the influence of the burgesses in the 
towns, with the one exception of Edinburgh, was practically negligible, and through 
the 14th and 15th centuries there was a constant and often unsuccessful struggle 
on the part of the king, supported by the church, against the nobles for the 
preservation of his authority and even of his life. During two centuries, nobles, 
little restrained by public opinion, which was almost inarticulate, often defied and 
robbed the church. A striking example of this occurred when Elgin Cathedral 
in 1390, with its hospital and canons' manses, was burned by the Wolf of Badenoch, 
who had been excommunicated by its bishop. 

One of the most vulnerable sides of the church's activities consisted in the 
hospitals, which had been established all over the country for the relief of the poor 
and sick ; and the funds of these were constantly appropriated by the territorial 
magnates within whose jurisdiction they had been established. 

When James I., after his long minority and captivity in England, returned to 
Scotland in 1424, there were great complaints as to the manner in which the 
church, and especially its hospitals, had been robbed. In his first Parliament, 
held at Perth on 12th March, 1424, the first item of business concerned the restoration 
of lands which had been taken from the Holy Kirk. The second item of business 
was that all hospitals of royal foundation for the poor and sick were to be visited 
by the Chancellor, as had been done in the time of the king's progenitors, while 
those founded by the nobility and other persons were to be visited by the bishops 
and ordinaries of the See, and these visitors were to reform the hospitals according 
to their first foundation. 1 James I. paid for his attempts at reorganisation with 
his life in 1437. 

After his son James II. had passed through his minority and taken over the 
reins of government, one of his early measures was a similar enactment in regard 
to reformation of hospitals. At a parliament held in Edinburgh on dth March, 
1457, it was enacted that the foundations of the hospitals were to be sought out 
and re-established, and where the foundation could not be discovered, it was 
directed that the matter should be referred to the king. Definite persons were 
specified who were to carry out this important matter in the different parts of 
the country. 2 

Before this could be done effectively the king was killed at the siege of 
Roxburgh in 1460. His widow, Mary of Gueldres, showed her interest in hospitals 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1424, Vol. II., p. 7. 
: Op. cit., 1457, Vol. II., p. 49. 


by the foundation of the Trinity Hospital at Edinburgh, and on gth October, 1466, 
a parliament of her son James III., held at Edinburgh, made a further attempt 
to remedy the abuse of hospitals. The Chancellor or his deputy was instructed to 
reduce hospitals to their original foundation. Where this could not be found, the 
fruits of the hospital were to be assigned in the district where the hospital had 
formerly existed for the benefit of poor and miserable persons on the recommendation 
of " two good men of conscience." 1 

The measure was not carried out with sufficient thoroughness to merit popular 
approval, and three years later a more peremptory Act was passed by the three 
estates. The King's Highness and the ordinaries were now instructed to cany 
the Act of 1466 into execution, and Maister Richard Guthre, the principal confessor 
of the king, was nominated to have authority for the reformation of the hospitals. 2 

Once again before the Reformation, at a parliament of James V., held on 
14th March, 1540, it was resolved that the former Acts anent hospitals should 
be re-enacted and that the King should name visitors to enforce the observance 
of the original foundations. 3 

The church also bestirred itself before the Reformation for the betterment of 
the hospitals still remaining under its administration. They were, in some places, 
falling into disuse, and in other places their funds were being misappropriated, 
so that the support of their inmates became impossible. This had become very 
noticeable by the year 1548, and at a Provincial Council, holden by the Prelates and 
Clergy of the realm of Scotland, at Edinburgh, in 1549, a resolution was passed 
anent the condition and repair of hospitals. Every ordinary was enjoined to make 
diligent inquiry throughout his diocese regarding the foundations of hospitals. 
If the charters and instruments could be found, he was to consider to what 
extent these places were dilapidated, who were their present possessors, and how 
the funds had been misappropriated. Masters of works of every monastery 
were enjoined to visit every year places attached to monasteries and churches 
for the repair of dilapidations. 

Little attention appears to have been paid to this, and at another Provincial 
Council, held at Edinburgh, in January, 1552, the above visitation was ordered to 
be put into effect before the next Michaelmas, and a report made to the 
Commissaries General so that suitable remedies could be provided. 4 

These orders, however, came too late, for the Reformation was at hand, and 
along with the possessions of other religious houses, the revenues of most of the 
hospitals were re-appropriated, usually for educational purposes, or simply for 
the benefit of neighbouring proprietors. 

It has already been mentioned that the early hospitals were connected with Nature oi 

religious foundations, and that those who carried out the treatment of the ailments 
ft ' treated 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1466, Vol. II., p. 80. 

* Op. cit., 1469, Vol. II., p. 97. 

3 Op. cit., 1540, Vol. II., p. 374. 

1 "Statutes of the Scottish Church, 1225-1559," Patrick, Pub. of Scottish Hist. Soc., pp. 119 and 139- 



sick in them were at first clerics. It should be remembered that the nature 
of a mediaeval hospital and the diseases treated there were necessarily somewhat 
different from those found in hospitals as they exist at the present day. 

In the first place, hospitals were not generally intended for the treatment 
of acute disease. For one thing, transport was difficult, and a patient suffering 
from such a disease as acute pneumonia could not be transported to hospital 
unless it happened that he took ill at the very gate of a monastery. 

In the second place, the early stages of chronic disease were not recognised. 
Thus, there was no means of diagnosing valvular disease of the heart, as such, 
before the end of the 18th century, and persons suffering from this condition 
would not be regarded as subjects for treatment until their condition was so 
advanced that the case might be classed as one of " dropsy." Similarly, diseases 
of the kidneys could hardly be recognised with exactness before Bright's treatise 
of 1827. If it be true that syphilis did not occur, in a severe form at least, 
before 1494, many diseases such as locomotor ataxia, general paralysis and 
several other nervous conditions, must have been non-existent in the Middle Ages. 
Speaking generally, therefore, only persons who had been so disabled as to be 
quite unfit for work and active life formed the class from which hospital patients 
were drawn in mediaeval times. 

Another reason of difference was that the clerical physician or surgeon, furnished 
with medical manuscripts often some centuries older than his time, had to rely 
for the alleviation of illness or bad health more upon simple remedies and 
hospitality than upon actual intervention. 

Virchow has shown that after the edict of Pope Innocent III., early in the 
13th century, directing the foundation of hospitals in all Sees, some 
150 hospitals of the Holy Spirit were founded in Germany alone. 1 To this 
period belongs the founding or re-organisation of several great hospitals in 
London, and, at this time, numerous hospitals appear to have been founded 
in Scotland also. 

At the time of the Reformation, the following hospitals were in existence in 
Scotland, having survived from a much earlier period : — 


Earlv At Berwick a Maison Dieu, or Domus Dei, existed from a very early period, 

hospitals as we jj as a ] 10S pital of the Virgin Mary, of which both are mentioned in writs of 
in southern. 

Scotland Edward III. of England. 2 Immediately outside the town, between the walls and 
the sea, stood a hospital dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, prior to the time of 
Edward I. ; this hospital still gives the name of Maudlinlield to the locality. 

At Hutton, in the south-east of the county, there had been founded during 
the Scoto-Saxon period, a hospital dedicated to the apostle John. The guardian 

1 Virchow: " Gesammelte Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete der Oeffentlichen Medizin," Berlin, 1879, Vol. II., p. 24. 

2 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. II., pp. 347-349- 



of this hospital took the oath of fealty to Edward I. in 1296. At Trefountain, near 
St. Bathans, a hospital was founded under David I. 

A very old hospital, dedicated to St. Leonard, dating from the Scoto-Saxon 
period, was founded by Hugh de Morville about 1170. This hospital stood on 
the west bank of the Leader, some distance below Lauder, and its guardian swore 
fealty to Edward I. in 1296. At a later date, in 1541, the tiends of this hospital 
were made over to Andrew Hume, whose wife's name was Margaret. Gemmell 
discovered on the walls of an old farmhouse, south of the town of Lauder, two 
inscribed stones of which one bears the letters A ", while the other has the 
inscription " Deus est fons vitse : thirst for the Vater of lif." He thinks that this 
building may have been the early hospital. 

At Legerwood, in Lauderdale, there was also an early hospital, dating from the 
time of Malcolm IV., whose guardian, in 1296, likewise swore fealty to Edward I. 

A hospital dedicated to St. Leonard at Horndene, close to Norham, was founded 
by Robert Byset in the 12th century. It apparently accommodated two persons, 
and was under the charge of the monks of Kelso in the 13th century. At Aldcambus 
a hospital for lepers was founded during the 12th century (see page 195). 

Hospitals appear also to have existed, according to Gemmell, at Cockburnspath 
(probably a hospice on a dangerous piece of road), Duns and Earlston. 


At Rutherford, on the south bank of the Tweed, there was an old hospital 
dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, and this was granted by Robert III. to the 
Canons of Jedburgh. It was founded in 1396, and had in its charter the curious 
provision that if it should be destroyed by an English invasion, it was to be 
rebuilt in the same place. 

The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem had various settlements in this county, 
and among others, a hospital at Nisbet was managed by a community of the knights 
living at Ancrum. 

In the vanished town of Old Roxburgh, at the confluence of the Teviot and 
the Tweed, a Maison Dieu, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, existed for the reception 
of pilgrims and diseased persons, and to this establishment the charity of David I. 
had granted land in Ravendene. 

At Ednam was a hospital dedicated to St. Laurence, founded by the Edmonstons 
of Ednam ; the chaplainry was confirmed by King James L, in 1426. 1 

At Jedburgh a Maison Dieu was founded at an early date, and its master 
swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. Small hospitals appear also to have existed 
at Smailholm, in the parish of Cavers, 2 and at Monteviot. 

1 Keith : "An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 475. 
: Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. II., p. 163. 



A hospital or hospice for wayfaring poor and pilgrims travelling to Melrose 
Abbey was erected by Jocelyn, Bishop of Glasgow, at Hassendean in the end of the 
12th century, and was afterwards called the Monks' Tower. 1 


About two miles east of Peebles, at a place more recently known as Chapel- 
yards, there was an ancient hospital dedicated to St. Leonard, which received a 
charter from King James I. in 1427. Near West Linton there seems to have been 
formerly a hospital at Spitalhaugh on Lyne Water. 2 


The largest hospital in the county of Dumfries appears to have been at 
Sanquhar. It is uncertain to whom it owes its foundation, but it was apparently a 
new erection in 1296, when Bartholomew Eglistan, the chaplain, swore fealty to 
Edward I. It stood on the north bank of the Nith near the old castle, and from its 
large building many of the neighbouring houses were erected. 

At the Abbey of Holywood, Edward Bruce, in the reign of his brother Robert I., 
founded a hospital and chapel which he endowed with lands in Galloway. The 
establishment, having been destroyed during the Wars of Independence, was restored 
in 1372 by Archibald the Grim, Earl of Douglas, who again endowed it with lands 
in Galloway by sanction of Robert II. 

At Trailtrow in Annandale, a hospital existed in early times, and at the 
Reformation passed with its lands into the possession of Lord Herries. 

At Kirkstyle, in the parish of Ruthwell, the Knights of the Order of St. John 
of Jerusalem had a preceptory and hospital, of which the master, having submitted 
to Edward I., in 1296, was rewarded by a precept to the Sheriff of Dumfries to 
restore his property. 3 


The only hospital in this county in early times, apart from those of the religious 
houses, appears to have stood at Spital in Kirkmabreck parish. 4 


In the north-west corner of Stoneykirk parish there existed in early times a 
hospital, of which the memory is still perpetuated by the name of Spital. It was 
probablv a hospice for pilgrims on the way to Whithorn, which for many centuries 
was a celebrated place of pilgrimage. 5 


There were some half-dozen ancient hospitals in this county, which were of 
great usefulness in the Middle Ages. 

1 Mackinlav : " The Pre- Reformation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 369 ; also Keith : " An Historical Catalogue of the 

Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 235. 
1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. IE, p. 943. 
3 Chalmers: Op. cit., Vol. III., p. 154. 
' Chalmers : Op. cit., Vol. HE, p. 310. 
* Chalmers : Op. cit., Vol. HE, p. 423. 


1 I I 

At BallincriefT, in Aberlady parish, a hospital was founded as early as the 
12th century and dedicated to St. Cuthbert. 

Near Seton, a hospital dedicated to St. Germain was founded in the 12th century. 
It was presumably associated with the neighbouring collegiate church of Seton, 
and, in 1296, when Bartholomew, a master of the old hospital, took the oath of 
fealty to Edward I., he received the restoration of the revenues of the hospital 
which were situated in various counties. The property of this hospital passed 
later to the support of King's College, Aberdeen. 

At the town of Haddington there was an old hospital dedicated to the 
Virgin Mary, which existed in the time of Edward II., and in its neighbourhood 
was a hospital dedicated to St. Laurence. There were also hospitals at 
Gosford and at Houseton ; the master of the Trinity Hospital in the latter 
place swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. 1 


One of the oldest hospitals in this county was that of Soltray or Soutra, in Soutra 
Midlothian, 16 miles south of Edinburgh, on the road leading to Kelso and Hos P it 
England. This hospital more nearly fulfilled the conditions of a modern hospital 
than many others, because, being situated on an important route, it gave aid to 
travellers, pilgrims and persons of the district who were urgently in need of medical 

Soutra aisle 
A present-day remnant of Soutra Hospital 

The hospital had been founded by Malcolm IV., in 1164, for the relief of 
pilgrims and poor and sickly people. In the neighbourhood was a well dedicated 
to the Holy Trinity, which was much frequented by sick and diseased persons 
because of its reputed curative properties. 

1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. II., p. 510. 

I I 2 


The hospital was apparently regarded as one of great importance. It received 
not onlygrants from King William and King Alexander II. ; but, from various bishops, 
barons and inferior persons, it received churches, tithes, lands, tofts, annuities, 
corn, meal and various other property, so that it must have been well able to 
discharge its functions. Two of its masters in the 13th century took the oath of 
allegiance to Edward I., and one of its latest masters, Thomas Lauder, was tutor 
to James II., and was made Bishop of Dunkeld in 1453. 1 The hospital is mentioned 
several times during the 13th century, but, apparently having become less necessary 
at a later date, the parish and church of Soutra were annexed to Trinity Church, 
in Edinburgh, where a hospital was founded by Mary of Gueldres, following on a 
Bull of Pope Pius II., in 1460. Remnants of Soutra Hospital in a district which 
is now moorland, are still visible, and form a striking feature of the landscape, 
visible for many miles in various directions. On some lands belonging to this 
hospital at St. Leonards, near Edinburgh, Robert Ballantine, Abbot of Holyrood, 
founded a hospital for seven distressed people. 

Trinity A very important Edinburgh hospital was the Trinity Hospital, founded 

Hospital at ^ e instigation of Queen Mary of Gueldres, in memory of her husband, James II. 

The funds of several religious houses, including those of the Hospital of Soutra, were 
appropriated for the purpose of founding Trinity Hospital and its collegiate 
church, 2 and numerous references to it occur in the Town Council minutes of the 
following century. On 21st June, 1578, a minute of the Town Council refers 
to the reorganisation in the hospital of Trinity College, where twelve furnished 
beds were now made ready for " pepill seiklie and vnabill to laubour for thair 
leving." These people were called " bedesmen," " bedrels," " betherells," or 
" beadles." They were given an allowance for food and clothing, and they 
had been obliged, prior to the Reformation, to carry out the duties, so far 
as they were able, of attendance on religious services twice daily, and of 
praying for the soul of the founder. In the minute of this date, nine 
persons were admitted. It is not specified what were their diseases, except 
in the case of Dauid Forester, who was a blind man. Of the nine, Jhonne 
Thomesoun retained his place only for about six weeks, being ejected on 
2nd August, 1578, because he was proved to be " ane drunkard." On gth August, 
Bessy Jhonnstoun, a widow, was added to the company, being a " pure 
impotent bedrell." 

Many gifts to the hospital are recorded in the following years, and, in 1581 
and 1584, the roof and windows were repaired. 3 The hospital continued its 
beneficent work for the sick and impotent up to the 19th century, and although 
the buildings disappeared to make way for the railway in 1845, its revenues are 
still employed by the Town Council in giving valued grants to aged and sick 
persons of the city. 

1 Chalmers : " Caledonia." London, 1810, Vol. II., p. 509. 

' "Charters Relating to the City of Edinburgh, 1143-1540," Scottish Burgh Records Society, Edinburgh, 1871, 
pp. 84-119. 

3 "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-15S9." PP- 77, 80, 81, 553, 208, 211 and 328. 



There was also in Edinburgh, at the time of the Reformation, a hospital in 
i Bell's Wynd, known as the Maison Dieu. The building of this hospital persisted 
into the 19th century, and was latterly known as the "Clamshell turnpike," 1 
from a shell carved in the stone above the door of the stairway. 

Another hospital, in St. Mary's Wynd, was that of the Virgin Mary, for which 
the Town Council, in 1575, authorised the taking of a collection in St. Giles 

i Church. There is a reference to this hospital in 1500, and it was re-roofed in 1508, 
but the deed of foundation appears to have been lost in 1583, when the Town 

! Council authorised Baillie Michael Chishohn to search for it. 2 

A hospital is also mentioned in connection with the Church of St. Mary de 
Campis, popularly known as the Kirk o' Field, which was one of the buildings 
burned by the English in 1544; so that in this year the religious community, 
not having means to rebuild it, sold the hospital to James, Earl of Arran, who 
built on it a lodging that afterwards was used as the College of Edinburgh. 
jThe University of Edinburgh now stands upon this site. 

Another hospital in Edinburgh, of almost equal age with Trinity Hospital, Hospital of 
was established by Thomas Spence, Bishop of Aberdeen, in the year 1479. ° ur Lady 
It was situated on the opposite side of Leith Wynd from Trinity Hospital, was 
designed for the reception and maintenance of twelve men, and was known as the 
Hospital of Our Lady. Subsequently it received revenues from other benefactors, 
including a chapel dedicated to St. Paul. The Town Council of Edinburgh 
became proprietors of this charity under a grant by Queen Mary, and in a minute 
of 15th June, 1582, they refer to it as the " hospitall of Sanct Pawles Work, callit 
pur Lady Hospitall," and lay down an elaborate set of rules for the master of the 
hospital and the bedesmen. The latter were to be " na papistes, bot of the trew 
religioun." They were to be " not defylit with blame of ony notable vyce, 
[ibot of guid fame and conversatioun," and persons who would have exercised 
themselves in some honest trade if " seiknes, aige or impotencie " had not 
prevented them. 3 

This hospital, however, appears to have passed into desuetude, and in 
||:6l9 the buildings, having become ruinous, were reconstructed under the name 
pf Paul's Work, to receive boys and girls who should be taught a trade; and, 
finally, the Town Council converted it into a House of Correction. In 1650, this 
kospital was used for the soldiers of General Leslie's army wounded in the repulse 
pf Oliver Cromwell, when he attacked Edinburgh. 

A hospital existed in connection with the Convent of St. Catherine of Siena, 
nhabited by Dominican nuns, a short distance south of Edinburgh, in a district 
vhich has come to be called, by corruption, " Sciennes." The hospital, which 

1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. II., p. 77<>- 

» "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589," PP- 39 and 314; and " Extracts, 1403-1528," 
pp. 79 and 117. 

' " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589," PP- 564-567- 



was presumably originally a place for the reception of the neighbouring sick, 
appears to have reverted after the Reformation to the possession of the Town 
Council. After some trouble with a neighbouring proprietor, Henry Kincaid, 

who also claimed the buildings, 
the magistrates took possession 
in 1575 and used it as an isolation 
hospital for persons suffering 
from the plague, which had been 
prevalent in Edinburgh. 1 

Still another Edinburgh hos- Hospital of 

pital which, however, was founded Mary 
t-. • Magdalen 

shortly before the Reformation, 

was the Hospital of the Magdalen 

Chapel in the Cowgate, founded 

by Michael Makquhen and Janet 

Rynd, his wife, in 1537, for seven 

bedesmen. This hospital lasted 

for some 115 years. Its chapel 

still stands. 

The bedesmen were accom- 
modated in the Cross-house, 
situated to the west of the 
chapel, and there was, in the 17th century, a garden with summer-house to the 
.south of the chapel and hospital. 2 The chapel and hospital were left under 
the patronage of the hammermen of Edinburgh. 3 

The manner in which a hospital gradually disappeared is well exemplified Hospital of 
by the experience of St. Thomas's Hospital, at Edinburgh, which had been St ' lhomas 
founded in 1541, in the reign of James V., by George Creighton, Bishop of 
Dunkeld. The building was in the Burgh of Canongate, close to the Water-gate, 
and the patronage of the hospital was vested by the founder in himself and his 
heirs. It was natural that the heirs should not be interested in hospital work, and, 
in 1617, an arrangement was reached between David Creighton, the patron at the 
time, and the bedesmen of the hospital, that Creighton should retain the endowments 
while the bedesmen and chaplains were allowed to sell the hospital buildings 
to the magistrates of the Canongate. The magistrates established here a hospital 
for the poor of the burgh, and, in 1634, sold the patronage of the hospital to the 
Kirk Session for the same purpose. In the words of Arnot : " Its revenues were, 
by degrees, entirely embezzled." In 1747, the building was converted into coach- 
houses, and, becoming ruinous, was pulled down in the year 1778. 4 

1 "Extracts from the Records of the Bur^h of Edinburgh, 1573-1589," PP- 3°. 37 and 38. 
■ " Old Edinburgh Club Publications," 1916, Vol. VIII., pp. 26 and 27. 
:| Chalmers: "Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. II., p. 770. 
' Arnot : " History of Edinburgh," 1779, p. 249. 



A hospital, with chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, was situated in North Leith, 
and a hospital for six persons was established in connection with the church of 
Dalkeith, by Sir James Douglas, in 1396. 1 

There are records of a hospital having existed in early times at Balantrodach, 
or Temple, in Midlothian, which originally was a settlement of the Knights Templars, 
whose property, after the dissolution of that Order in 1312, passed into the keeping 
of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. 2 The ancient chapel 
of this religious settlement still stands in a ruined state. 3 


An important example of the care which religious institutions exercised over Knights of 
the physical well-being of the community is still to be seen in the Priory of St - J ohn of 
Torphichen, established by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, with J erusalem 
the consent of David I., in the year 1124. 4 A hospitium had been established 
at Jerusalem, as a pious foundation, by the merchants of Amain some time before 
1048, for the purpose of giving shelter to pilgrims arriving at the Holy City. 

With the appearance of the Crusaders at Jerusalem in 1099, the character of 

I the fraternity of serving brothers, spending their lives in devoted attention to the 
sick and destitute among the pilgrims, changed. They now took the very important 
step of undertaking, in addition to their charitable work, the protection of 
pilgrims both in Palestine and in their journeys to and from it. This introduced 
a military element into their duties, and in 1099, under the mastership of 

! Raymond de Puy, their title was changed to that of the Knights Hospitallers 
of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, whose uniform consisted of a red surcoat 
with a plain white cross. The cross sometimes takes the form of a Maltese cross 
and sometimes, as at Torphichen, has a double crosspiece. The Order was made 
up of three classes — knights of noble birth, who carried arms; priests or chaplains, 

. who performed religious ceremonies ; and serving brothers, who attended the sick 

I and relieved the pilgrims. 

The Order gradually came to hold much property in different countries, 

li and it was divided into national corps, known as provinces or langues. 

1 Over every langue, such as that of England, presided a Grand Prior, 
under whom were placed Preceptors or Commanders, governing the different 
houses or commanderies in the province. A Preceptory, or Priory, served 
as a home for aged knights and as a recruiting station for aspirants to the 

i Order. It is presumable that the Priory at Torphichen was an offshoot of 
the English langue, which had been established in 1100 and later developed 

I into a wealthy monastery at Clerkenwell, in London, of which the gate still 

In a dispute between the Scottish Hospitallers and the Abbot and Canons of 
Holyrood, between 1210 and 1214, the settlement was sealed by the Chapter of the 

1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. II., p. 772. 
* Chalmers: Op. cit., Vol. II. p. 769. 

3 Macgibbon and Ross : " Ecclesiastica. Architecture of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1896, Vol. II., p. 486. 
1 Beatson : " The Knights Hospitallers in Scotland." Glasgow, 1903. 



House of the Hospitallers in London, showing that Scotland was nominally at least 
under the English langue. 1 Nevertheless, many of the Scottish recruits served 
in the various langues of France. The toughness of the young Scottish knights 
is attested by the fact that one of them, Thomas Eliot, who was hanged at Hexham 
early in the 14th century, was found to be alive when the body was removed for 
burial, so that he was granted a free pardon and allowed to depart abroad. 2 

The Priory at Torphichen stands some five miles south of Linlithgow, an Priory of 
important royal residence of the mediaeval Scottish kings, in a hollow among Tor pl licrien 
the hills, where it was protected by a surrounding morass from attack. 
Although at the present day shorn of its outer defences, it still presents a 
combination of a religious and military edifice. 

Here, in the 13th century, the knights and their followers continued 
to exercise a beneficent influence over the surrounding district, and here a 
" Sanctuary," wherein no man might be seized or harmed, extended for 
one mile in every direction round the building. The grounds of the 
Preceptory were a Scots acre in extent, enclosed by a moat, and a portion 
of them was known as " the Knights' Garden," in which medicinal herbs 
were cultivated. Donations and land were freely bestowed upon it by several 
of the Scottish kings, and at one time it is said to have held possessions in eight 
of the counties of Scotland and to have had a large revenue. The Scottish 
property of the Knights Templars was transferred to it in 1312 on the 
suppression of the latter Order. 

The head of the hospital in Scotland, from 1291 to 1298, was 
Alexander de Welles, an Englishman, who swore fealty to Edward I., in 1296, and 
fell at the battle of Falkirk fighting on the English side in July, 1298. 3 Before 
the battle, the Priory had been used as headquarters by William Wallace, and 
here, in March, 1298, he signed the only charter issued by him as Guardian of the 
Kingdom of Scotland in the name of King John Balliol. 

A service like that rendered by the good Lord James Douglas to King Robert 
Bruce was presumably rendered by a Scottish knight of the hospital to James I., 
whose heart was removed from his body and carried on a pilgrimage to the east. 
From the " Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," it appears that, in 1443, a Knight of 
St. John returned from Rhodes bringing back the heart of King James, which 

j it had not been found possible to deposit in Jerusalem. This knight received 

j: £91 for his travelling expenses. 4 

The age at which a novice might enrol among the knights of the hospital 
was 16, and he took up residence in the Preceptory at the age of 20, after 
I which he underwent three years' of active service and two years' residence in the 
Preceptory, learning the duties of office. After this, he was appointed commander 

1 " Charters of Holyrood " (Bannatyne Club), p. 36. 

'- Edwards : " Transactions of Scottish Ecclesiological Society," 1906-1909, Vol. II , p. 382. 

3 M'Call : " History of the Parish of Mid-Calder," Edinburgh, 1894, p. 252. 

4 " Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. V., pp. xliv., 156, 179. 



The last 

of some subsidiary station, and presumably managed the property of the hospital 
in some outlying district, and thereafter he was eligible for promotion to a more 
important position. 1 During the 15th and 16th centuries, the knights of the 
hospital, established first at Rhodes and later at Malta, carried on unceasing warfare 
with the Turks and the pirates of the Southern Mediterranean shore. Here 
many of the Scottish knights took part in the great adventure of this bulwark 
between the Christian countries and the invading Moslem hosts and fleets. 

The last four Preceptors at 
Torphichen were Sir William Knollis, 
who was Treasurer of Scotland, Sir 
George Dundas, Sir Walter Lindsay 
and Sir James Sandilands. Of 
Lindsay, who was Preceptor from 
I 533 to I 547> ai the end of an 
adventurous life, his contemporary 
Pitscottie says : — 

"... ane nobill and 
potent lord nameit Schir Walter 
Lyndsay knycht of Torfeichin 
and lord of S. Johnne, who was 
weill besene and practissit in 
weiris baitht in Itallie and 
had fouchin oft tymeis against 
the Turkis in defence of the 
Christieane men in companie 
witht the lord of the Rodis 
(Rhodes), and thair he was 
maid knycht for walliezand 
(valiant) actis and thairefter 
come in Scottland and seruit 
our king. . ." 2 

This sagacious old warrior was 
in command of the Scottish van- 
guard at the battle of Haddenrig, 
near Jedburgh, in 1542, when an 
English army of 10,000 men was 

Sir James Sandilands, like his father, was a personal friend of John Knox 
and of the Reformation. Although he had been presented to the Preceptorship 
of Torphichen by the Pope in 1547, he threw in his lot with the Reformers, and, 
in 1563, resigned the Preceptorship, when the possessions of the Hospital of St. John 

A Knight of the Hospital of St. John 

(After Bedford and Holbcche) 

1 Porter : " The Knights of Malta," London, 1884, p. 320. 

J Lindesay : " Historie and Cronicles of Scotland," Edinburgh, Vol. I., Chap XXXVI. p . 396. 



in Scotland were made into a temporal barony carrying with them the title of 

Lord Torphichen, which he assumed, 
from him. Those of the brethren 

Sir James Sandilands 
Last Preceptor of Torphichen and First Lord Torphichen 
(From a portrait in the possession 0/ the Rt. Hon. Lord Torphichen) 

The present Lord Torphichen is descended 
of the hospital who remained attached 
to the Roman Catholic 
religion left Scotland with 
David Seton, who was 
made Roman Catholic 
Preceptor, and died in 
Germany in 1591. 1 

Hospitals must have Branches of 
existed in connection with the ° rder 
the subordinate settle- 
ments of the Knights 
Hospitallers, as well as 
the hospitium at Torphi- 
chen, of which the site 
is still pointed out. There 
was another Preceptory 
at Kirkstyle, in the Parish 
of Ruthwell, where several 
tombstones were, early in 
the last century, to be 
seen in the churchyard, 
bearing the insignia of 
this celebrated fraternity, 2 
and still another at 
Balantrodach, or Temple, 
in Midlothian. In regard 
to houses belonging to the 
Hospitallers at Linlithgow 
and Glasgow, Beatson 
suggests that these were 
used as hospitals for the 
sick. 3 

The Hospital of St. 

Mary Magdalen, in Lin- 
lithgow, belonged to the religious order of Lazarites, and is mentioned in the 
year 1426, when Robert de Lynton was nominated to the post of master 
by Queen Jean, wife of James I. 4 

1 Bedford and Holbeche : " The Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem," London, 1902, p. 67. 
1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," Vol. 111., p. 154. Two of these stone slabs can still be seen built into the wall of the Free 
Church at Ruthwell. They bear incised representations of swords, crosses, baldrick and horn, etc. 

3 Beatson : " The Knights Hospitallers in Scotland," Glasgow, 1903, p. 26. 

4 Keith : "An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 477. 

Stirling, from Cambuskenneth Abbey, about 1680 
Showing the considerable distance separating the Town from the Bridge, with Its Hospital and Chapels 

(From the engraving by Slezer) 


It had apparently been restored under James I. as a hospitium for the 
reception of pilgrims. It stood to the east of the burgh, at the foot of 

Pilgrim Hill. It seems to have been originally 
a hospital for lepers. 


At Stirling, a Hospital of St. James stood Early hospi- 
at the end of the bridge {see page 124), having 0 f Scotland 
been granted to the Canons of Cambusken- 
neth serving God there, by King Robert III., 
in March, 1403. The chapel attached to the 
hospital, along with a chapel to St. Roche, 
was destroyed at the Reformation, but a 
reference to the hospital as still existing 
is found as late as 1709. 1 In the town the 
Hospital of Spittals stood in St. Mary's Wynd, 
seal of l 1 nlithgow leper having been founded by Robert Spittal, tailor 
House ... „, . 

to King James IV., in 1530. 


A collegiate church, with a hospital for bedesmen, was founded at Dumbarton 
in 1450 by Isabel, Duchess of Albany and Countess of Lennox, who endowed the 
institution richly with various lands. The foundation was established in memory 
of, and in order that prayers might be said for the 
soul of, the Earl of Lennox, who was put to death 
by James I. on suspicion of having been concerned 
in maintaining the king's long imprisonment in 
England. The hospital for bedesmen was still 
standing about the middle of the 18th century, and 
its ruins then showed a long building of two 
storeys with round-headed windows, without roof 
but with walls still intact. It stood on the site of 
the present railway station of Dumbarton. 2 

At Kilpatrick there appears to have been from 
very ancient times a hospital for pilgrims going to 
the shrine of St. Patrick in Dumbarton Castle. 
In the 12th century, Beda Ferchan, a recluse, lived 
in a house of wattle, there to attend to the passing 
pilgrims (Gemmell). 


I"a'lt ;\ A ("yttcy A 

Foundation Stone 
of Hospital founded at Stirling in 
1530 by Robert Spittal, tailor to 
King James IV. 


The only hospital in Renfrewshire, apart from those of the abbeys, appears 
to have been one founded, with the sanction of the prior and monks of Paisley, 

1 Fleming : " The Old Ludgings of Stirling," Stirling, 1897, p. 104. 

1 Macgibbon and Koss : " Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1896, Vol. III., p. 4-5- 



before the end of the 12th century, by Robert Croc, who gave the name to 
Crookstoun. The hospital and its chapel appear to have stood at the west side 
of Laveran Water. The hospital does not seem to have had a long existence. 1 


The most notable hospital in this county was that of St. Ninian's for lepers 
at Kingcase, supposed to have been founded by King Robert Bruce. It is 
noticed elsewhere {see page 195). A hospital dedicated to St. Leonard stood at 
Doonslee, north of the river Doon, in the reign of James IV., and later. 2 

ILL .// 

Ruins of the Hospital at Dumbarton 
From a sketch by Paul Sandby. R A., in 1747 
(Original in National Gallery of Scotland) 


At Glasgow, the Hospital of St. Nicholas was founded in 1471 by Andrew Bishop 
Muirhead, Bishop of Glasgow, close to his episcopal palace, for the support of Ho^itafof 
12 men and a chaplain, who acted as master of the hospital till the Reformation, st. Nicholas 
Bishop Muirhead also built a chapel attached to the hospital in a Gothic style 
of fine ashlar work, and opposite to the hospital a manse for the chaplain. 3 
This hospital received benefactions from other sources : for example, Master 
Michael Fleming endowed a bed in it, 4 and, after the Reformation, Archbishop 
Robert Leighton made some addition to its revenues. 

1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. III., p. 828. 
' Chalmers : Op. cit., Vol. III., p. 497. 
' Chalmers : Op. cit., Vol. III., p. 658. 

4 Keith : " An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 475 ; and "Chartularv of Paisley," 
p. 297. 



Some time after the Reformation it became the town house of William Baillie, 
laird of Provan, and thus obtained the name of " Provand's Lordship." At the 
beginning of the igth century, part of its revenues were still in the hands of the 
Glasgow magistrates, who made an annual distribution among four old men. 
In this hospital there existed the unusual provision of waiting maids to attend 
the sick. 1 

Hospital of St. Nicholas, Interior of an Apartment 
The small window on the left originally lighted a separate cubicle 

The Hospital of St. Nicholas is almost unique among ancient Scottish hospitals 
in the fact that a large part of its building has been preserved and has recently 
been restored. The greater part is still a portion of the original building erected 
by Bishop Muirhead. In the beginning, the house was a tenement of three storeys, 
each divided into three self-contained dwellings or rooms, with large stone fire- 
place and window with stone seats. To the side of each window is a smaller 
window, which apparently admitted light to a small cubicle. The building, as 
it stands, thus provided nine separate dwelling-houses, but there is evidence that 
it extended originally further to the north than it does at present, and there was 
therefore, in all probability, another section which has now disappeared and 

1 Keith: "An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 475. 



which contained three more rooms, thus affording twelve separate living rooms 
with cubicles for the twelve beneficiaries of Bishop Muirhead. 

On the middle of the west side was a circular stone turnpike staircase, giving 
entrance to a wooden gallery on each storey, which ran for the greater part of the 
length of the building, and gave admission to the door of each room. This was 
a characteristic feature of the old houses in Glasgow and Edinburgh in the 
15th and 16th centuries. In 1670, the wooden galleries were removed and 
the house was extended towards the west by a stone wing on either side of the 
central staircase, by which entry to the rooms is now gained. 1 

Plan of Hospital of St. Nicholas as in 
15th century 

Showing: 1— Well Staircase: 2— Wooden Gallery of Access: 
3. 4, 5 — Three Apartments as at present, with supposed 
continuation of another to the north 

. (After Whitelaw) 

At the south end of the old Glasgow Bridge, in the district of Gorbals, stood 
the Hospital of St. Ninians for the accommodation of lepers, founded by the 
Lady of Lochow during the reign of David II. {see page 196). 

Other Glasgow hospitals included one which was founded at the Stablegreen 
Port by Roland Blackader, in 1491, another in the parish of Cambuslang, to which 
belonged the lands of Spital and Spital Mill, and a hospital dedicated to St. John, 
founded probably by one of the bishops of Glasgow, which was in existence before 
13 19, and which stood at Polmadie. 2 

At the town of Lanark the Hospital of St. Leonard was established at an early 
date, about half a mile to the east of the town. It was governed by the Order 
of Lazaritcs, like the Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, near Linlithgow. It was 
endowed with the revenue of various lands, including a tract in Carluke parish 
i which was called Spital-Shiels. Its patronage passed through various hands, 
! being finally in that of the family of Lockhart of Lee, and it continued up to the 
Reformation. 3 

1 Harvey : " Provand's Lordship : The Bishop's Almshouse," Glasgow, 1920. 

2 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1810, Vol. III., p. 657. 

3 Chalmers : Op. cit.. p. 656. 




In the parish of Kilbride a hospital dedicated to St. Leonard existed in the 
13th century at Torrans, and its warden, in 1296, took the oath of allegiance to 
Edward I. It passed out of existence at the Reformation. 

In the parish of Shotts, James, Lord Hamilton, in 1471 founded a chapel and 
hospital for the poor, dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena. The hospital disappeared 
at the Reformation, but the chapel became the parish church. In the town of 
Hamilton there was also a hospital, which was suppressed at the Reformation, 
although another hospital for eight poor men was subsequently established there. 
Hospitals also existed at an early time in Rutherglen and in the parish of 
Stonehouse. 1 

At Biggar, the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, founded in 1545-46 by 
Malcolm, Lord Fleming, Chamberlain of Scotland, included in its personnel 
six bedesmen, who appear to have been accommodated at a hospital in the 
neighbourhood. 2 

In Carnwath parish, near the place where the burn of Carnwath meets the 
South Medwyn, a hospital was founded for eight bedesmen by Sir Thomas Somerville 
in the beginning of the 15th century. 3 


Early A hospital, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, stood at Scotlandwell, close to 

in Antral ^ ne Bridge 01 Leven. It belonged to the Trinity or Red Friars, and was 
Scotland founded by William Malvoisin, Bishop of St. Andrews, in the earlier half of 
the 13th century. 4 

At St. Andrews, an ancient hospital existing in Culdee times is mentioned 
by Sibbald. 5 Various grants were made by successive popes to this hospital, 
as, for example, by Pope Alexander III., in 1163 ; by Pope Lucius III., in 1183 ; 
when the object of the grant to the hospital is described as being " in susceptione 
hospitum pauperum peregrinorum " ; and again Pope Innocent IV., in 1246, used 
the same terms. One-seventh of the altar offerings at St. Andrews were allotted 
to this hospital by Bishop Robert (1144), and David, King of Scots, gave a charter 
to the hospital for the sustenance of poor pilgrims. 6 In Gordon of Rothemayi 
map the hospital is shown outside the walls to the west of the town. 7 

Sibbald, in referring to St. Leonard's College, founded by John Hepburn, 
Prior of St. Andrews in 1512, says that the building had previously been a hospital 
lor 17 men. 8 There were thus apparently at least two hospitals. 

1 Chalmers : " Caledonia," London, 1S10, Vol. III., p. 659. 

2 Mackinlay : "The Pre-Reforruation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 371. 

3 Mackinlay : Loc. ( it. 

4 Sibbald : " History of Fife and Kinross," London, 1803, p. 282. 
4 Sibbald : Op. cit., p. 179. 

" Liber Cartarum Prior. Sanct. Andree, 1841, p. 193. 

7 " Bannatyne Club Miscellany," Vol. III., p. 324. 

' Sibbald : " History of Fife and Kinross," London, 1803, p. 270. 



An old writer, speaking of St. Leonard's College, says : — 

" The Guest-hall called magna Aula Hospitum stood w*in the precinct 
of St. Leonards Colledge upon the south syde of ye outer closs. ... I 
find also mention made of the infirmatorium canonicorum qch I conceive 
was anc appartment for the sick in the monasterie. . . . Fordon is 
expresse that Bishop Arnold died in this room, his words are ' obijt in 
infirmatorio canonicorum,' probably is meaned hereby the Zenodochium, 
now St. Leonards Colledge." 1 



Plan of the Abbey of Inchcolm 
To show the arrancement of a Monastic Infirmary in the 15th century. For elevation of Infirmary. 

see Chapter IV. 

(From Guide to Inchcolm, by permission of H.M. Office of W orks) 

At the Monastery of Inchcolm, situated on an island in the Forth, a group Monastic ^ 
of buildings, dating back to the 12th century, shows the best preserved monastic Inchcolm 
infirmary in Scotland. The infirmary, which is quite separate from the guest 
hall, shows a range of four rooms placed above a cellar and kitchen, and situated 

Reliqute D. Andre*, or the State of the venerable and Primitial See of St. Andrews. Hutton MSS. Vol. VI., 
in National Library, Edinburgh. 



on the southern aspect of the monastery. From the 14th century onwards monastic 
infirmaries ceased to be open halls and were cut up into a series of chambers, 
provided generally with a fireplace in each. The east-most chamber may possibly 
have been used as a chapel. 1 

At Aberdour, on the mainland in the immediate neighbourhood of Inchcolm, 
a Hospital of St. Martha was founded in 1474 by James, Earl of Morton, for the 
relief of poor pilgrims and travellers. The vicar of Aberdour, who was one of the 
canons of Inchcolm, was appointed its perpetual administrator, and the inmates 
were under the care of four Sisters of the Order of St. Francis, or Poor Clares. 
The hospital was established close to a celebrated holy well of St. Fillan — eye well, 
or pilgrim well — which had been a resort of healing from very ancient times. 
It was situated on the south side of the public road, near the ancient church 
of St. Fillan. 2 

At Dunfermline, a chapel and hospital, dedicated to St. Leonard and situated 
at the lower end of the town on the road to Queensferry, is said to have existed 
from the time of Queen Margaret in the nth century. In later times it provided 
accommodation for eight widows, who had each a room and garden. The Abbot 
of Dunfermline was its patron before the Reformation, and in the reign of James VI. 
its patronage was gifted to Queen Anne of Denmark (Gemmell). 

Hospitals also appear to have existed in this county at Crail, Culross, Ardross 
near Elie, Cupar, where there was a hospice of St. John, and at Uthrogal in the 
parish of Monimail, where stood an ancient leper hospital, of which the funds 
were diverted by Queen Mary of Gueldres to Trinity Hospital in Edinburgh. 

Wood's Hospital at Largo was a later foundation, established in the reign of 
Charles II. (see page 139). 

Pert hs hi re 

In Perth, or St. Johnston's, as it was called in ancient times, there were four 
monasteries as well as other religious houses, each presumably provided with its 
hospitium and infirmary. The Nunnery of St. Mary Magdalen, with its chapel and 
hospital, stood about a mile south of the town. 3 It was a very old foundation 
and was suppressed when the Carthusian Monastery, or Charterhouse, to the west 
of the town, was founded in 1429. The funds were used for the latter establishment, 
and, when the Carthusian Monastery in turn was suppressed at the Reformation, 
the Hospital of King James VI. was erected on its site. This post-reformation 
hospital for the needs of the poor of the city was founded in 1569 by the Regent 
Moray, in the name of King James VI. 

The Nunnery of St. Leonard the Abbot, with its chapel and hospital, was 
founded before 1296. It was a little to the south-west of the town, and was also 
suppressed when the Carthusian Monastery was built, its lands and rents being 

1 Wilson Paterson : Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1927, Vol. LX., p. 241. 

2 Johnstone : " Guide to Aberdour," p. 17. 

3 Mackinlay : "The Pre-Refonnation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 377. 



given to the latter. A governess of this hospital at one time was that Lad)/ 
Elizabeth Dunbar, daughter of the Earl of March, who had been affianced to the 
Duke of Rothesay, son of Robert III., but who was passed over by him in favour 
of Marjory, daughter of the Earl of Douglas, in consideration of a richer dowry. 
Lady Elizabeth Dunbar, retiring from the world, took the veil and became prioress 
of the nunnery and governess of the Hospital of St. Leonard. 

St. Paul's Chapel, at the north-west corner of the New Row, was founded in 
1434 by John Spens, of Glen Douglas, and had a hospital for strangers as well as 
for the infirm and the poor. 1 

St. Catherine's Chapel, on the west side of the town, in the locality known as 
Claypots, was founded in 1523 by Sir John Tyrie, and had a hospital for the 
entertainment of poor travellers. 

The Chapel of St. Ann, to the south of St. John's Church, had a hospital for 
the entertainment of strangers and poor persons, which had apparently been 
founded at an early date. 2 

At Dunkeld, a hospital dedicated to St. George was founded by Bishop Brown 
in 1510, for the support of seven old men. 3 

At Suggeden, on the river Tay, in this county, a hospital, under the rule of 
St. Augustine, existed in early times. Its master, Brother William, swore fealty 
to King Edward I. in 1296. 


At Brechin, the Hospital of Maison Dieu, or Domus Dei, was founded in 1256 Early hospi- 
by Willi; tm, Lord of Brechin, a grandson of David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother Q ^ Scotland 
of William the Lion. It was founded for the safety of the souls of King William 
and King Alexander of Scotland, and of John, Earl of Chester and Huntingdon, 
brother of the founder, Henry, his father, and Juliana, his mother. 4 It was also 
styled in early times the Hospital of the Virgin Mary, and attached to the building 
was an extensive tract of excellent land. 5 Part of the chapel which was attached 
to the hospital still remains in the centre of the town, and presents a good example 
of the first pointed style of architecture. 6 

The hospital is mentioned again during the reign of King James III., in 1477, 
but seems to have passed out of existence before the Reformation. Archbishop 
William Schevez was, in early life, master of this hospital. Its revenues, however, 
still survive, and until late in the 19th century were paid to the rector of the 
Brechin Grammar School, who enjoyed the official title of Regius Preceptor of 
Maison Dieu. 

This hospital had no connection with the later hospital founded by King 
James VI. in 1572, for the relief of the poor, the lame and the miserable, orphans 

1 Marshall : " Historic Scenes in Perthshire," Edinburgh, 1880, p. 14. 
■ Marshall : Loc. cit. 

3 Mackinlay : " The Pre-Reformation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 378. 

4 Keith : " An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 475. 
' Black : " History of Brechin," Edinburgh, 1867, p. 255. 

" Macgibbon and Ross : " Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1896, Vol. II., p. 215. 



and destitute persons, the revenues being drawn from rents bequeathed in 
pre-reformation times for masses and anniversaries. These revenues are still 
administered by the Town Council of Brechin. 

Near Arbroath, about a mile south-west of the town, is the estate of Hospital- 
field, where stood an ancient hospital, of which Jervise gives the following 
particulars : — 

" In connection with the Abbey (of Arbroath) there was also a Hospital 
or Infirmary, of much the same nature as those of the present day. There 


(Ajter Black) 

was attached to it a chapel, which appears towards the close of the fifteenth 
century to have fallen into a state of great dilapidation, and for the repair 
of this the rents of the lands of Aberncthy and the chapel lands of Dron were 
mostly appropriated. The hospital, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, stood 



nearly two miles south-west of the Abbey ; and, in 1325, when the lands are 
first recorded as being let by the Abbot, the tenants were bound to build, 
during the first year of a five years' lease which they had of the lands, a barn 
and byre, each forty feet in length. . . . Upon the site of this old byre 
and barn the fine hall of the mansion-house of Hospitalfield is erected ; and 
it is believed that the agreement regarding the erection of the byre and barn 
referred to furnished Sir Walter Scott with the locality of ' Monkbarns ' in 
his novel of The Antiquary." 1 

At Montrose, a hospital dedicated to the Virgin existed in the 15th century, 
and to it belonged the lands of Spittalshiels in Kincardineshire. 2 

At Dundee, a convent of the Red or Trinity Friars was founded by 
Sir James Lindsay, Knight, in 1390. Attached to this was a hospital, of which 
the revenues appear to have been considerable. 3 It seems to have been 
connected with the abbey at Coupar Angus. This abbey also possessed 
Coupar Grange, which was probably the home-farm of the abbey, where the 
abbot had a country seat and to which the monks occasionally retired when sick. 4 

A berdeenshire 

During the reign of King Alexander III., Alexander Cumyn, Earl of Buchan, 
founded two hospitals in this district. Of these, one was at Newburgh on the Ythan ; 
the other, dedicated to St. Congan, was at Turriff, and maintained a master, 
six chaplains and 13 poor husbandmen of Buchan. King Robert I. conferred 
upon this hospital the lands of Pets, as a gift for the soul of Nigel Bruce, his 
brother. 5 

At Aberdeen, St. Thomas's Hospital, known later as the Beadhouse, was founded 
in 1459, by John Clatt, Canon of Aberdeen, and stood near St. Nicholas's Church. 6 

At Old Aberdeen, a hospital was founded by Bishop Gavin Dunbar, in 1532, Bishop 
for 12 old men, with a preference to inhabitants of the bishop's lands. hospital 3 
Orem gives the following account of this hospital in 1724 : — 

" The said Bishop Gavin Dunbar granted a Charter at Edinburgh, 
February 25, 1531, founding an hospital for twelve poor men, an hundred 
feet in length and thirty-two in breadth, having a timber steeple with a bell ; 
twelve little chambers, with as many little chimneys for a little fire in each 
of them ; a common kitchen ; and in the east end an oratory. Dominus 
John Erskine had got from the king 200 1. yearly out of the fishing and lands 
of Aberdeen, which the said Bishop bought from him, and mortified it to the 
said 12 poor men. Each should get twelve merks of said sum at four terms 
in the year, and a merk to buy a white coat. Their director was to get five 

1 Jervise : " Memorials of Angus and Mearns," Edinburgh, 18X5, Vol. I., p. 231 ; aha Scott : " The Antiquary," second 

edition, Vol. I., p. 28. 
1 Mackinlay : " The Pre-Keformation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 378. 

3 Warden : " Angus or Forfarshire," Dundee, 1881, Vol. II., pp. 113 and 128. 

4 " New Statistical Account of Scotland," Vol. X., p. 1143. 

s Keith : "An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 479. 
6 Mackinlay : "The Pre-Reformation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 380. 



merks of said sum, and the rest for bringing fire to them. They who were 
to be admitted to this hospital should be unmarried men of sixty 

years. . . . 

None were to be received but such as were of a good conversation, and 
lived in the bishop's lands ; or those who had wrought about the kirk, the 
bishop's palace, prebend's lodging in the chanry, about the bridge of Dee ; 
or had done service in the King's wars ; which failing, the blind and the 
lame, ivc." 1 

Hospital of Bishop Gavin Dunbar, near St. Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen 

(From a Print in Aberdeen University Library) 

The hospital stood close to the Chanonry, and, although it disappeared in 1786, 
its funds are still administered for grants to poor persons. 

On the road between New and Old Aberdeen, a hospital was founded in the 
time of William the Lion by Matthew Kyninmunde, Bishop of Aberdeen, for the 
benefit of the poor and sick. Later, apparently in the 16th century, this was 

1 Orem : " Old Aberdeen," Aberdeen, 1791, pp. 97 and 98 ; also Cormack : " Poor Relief in Scotland," Aberdeen, 1923, 
p. 155- 



converted by the Town Council into a leper hospital. The ground belonging to the 
hospital was known as the Spital. 1 

A hospital also existed at Kincardine-O'Neil, in Aberdeenshire, which had 
been founded before 1296, as in that year its master is recorded as one Wautier. 2 


On the outskirts of Elgin, a preceptory of Maison Dieu was founded in the Early 
first half of the 13th century, with a hospital for entertaining strangers and main- ^°^j*^ s f 
taining poor infirm people. 3 It is mentioned in a Charter of 1224. In 1390, Scotland 
it shared the fate of Elgin Cathedral, being burned by the Wolf of Badenoch, but 
was apparently rebuilt, and existed up to the Reformation, when its endowments 
were granted by King James VI. to the Town Council of Elgin for the support 
of poor men (Gemmell). The funds were used in 1624 for the erection of a 
bedehouse known as the " hospitalium burgi de Elgin," which was replaced by 
another in 1846. 

A Hospital of St. Nicholas stood on the east bank of the Spey, close to Boat 
of Bridge, having been founded by one of the bishops of Moray for poor men and 
travellers. Walter de Moravia was an early benefactor of the hospital about the 
beginning of the 13th century, and Muriel de Pollock some time later gave permission 
to the hospital to build a mill on the lands of Inverorkel. 4 This hospital 
disappeared about the time of the Reformation, though its buildings could still 
be seen in the end of the 18th century. 5 

At Rothfan, a hospital for lepers was founded about the year 1226, by 
John Bisset (see page 196). Part of the revenue of this hospital is still preserved 
in the parish of Rothfan and used for annual grants to poor persons (Gemmell). 

Ross and Caithness 

Hospitals must have existed from an early period in the north of Scotland, 
for the Chancellor of Ross, in 1457, was appointed under the Act of King James II. 
to visit and reform them. The tradition of several of these is preserved by the 
name of Spital, which occurs in several places. 

Near Halkirk, in Caithness, stood a Church of St. Magnus, attached to a 
hospital. The foundations of these buildings were traceable at a recent date. 6 

After the Reformation there was comparatively little new foundation of Post-reform- 
hospitals in Scotland until the voluntary hospital movement, which took place ho^} ta ] s 
in the 18th century. In some places the Kirk Session of various parishes 
established temporary hospitals for the reception of sick paupers. The most notable 
exception was the establishment by John Cowane, a merchant in Stirling, who died 

1 Mackihlay : " The Prc-Reformation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 382. 

! Keith : " An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 476. 

3 Pennant : " A 'lour in Scotland," third edition, Warrington, 1774, p. 287. 

4 Keith : " An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 477. 
* Shaw : " History of the Province of Moray," Edinburgh, 1775, p. 2C3. 

8 Cosmo Innes : " Origines Parochiales Scotia?," Edinburgh, 1855, Vol. II., p. 758. 

Cowane's Hospital, Stirling 

Nether Hospital at Stirling 
Illustrating the type of small hospital erected in the 17th and 18th centuries 
for sick paupers 



in 1637, and left funds to endow a hospital, to be called " Cowane's Hospital," for 
12 decayed members of the Stirling Guildry. This foundation was on the pre- 
relormation plan of taking in sick and decayed persons for the remainder of their 
lives, but it proved quite unsuited to modern habits and ideas, and accordingly, 
about 1852, the hospital ceased to exist as such, the rooms for the patients were 
converted into a hall, and the endowments were used to provide grants for sick 
and decayed persons in their own homes. 1 

A similar arrangement was made in regard to the endowments of various 
hospitals in Scotland, such as the Trinity Hospital in Edinburgh, and Spittal's 
Hospital in Stirling. The word " hospital " in Scotland also came to be used in 
the 17th and 18th centuries to indicate educational foundations, such as schools 
for boys. 

Post-reformation hospitals were founded sometimes by private endowments, 
sometimes out of previously existing hospital funds, which had been dissipated 
at the Reformation and subsequently recovered. Such hospitals, for example, 
were found at Elgin, Perth, Brechin, Largo and Aberdeen. They were all of small 
size, and in most cases had only temporary existence, although in several instances 
the funds have been preserved for annual grants to poor persons. 

The hospital at Largo affords an example of the manner in which some post- 
reformation hospitals deteriorated into mere homes for aged persons. 

At the end of the year 1665, a hospital, for which funds had been left by 
John Wood, was finished at the church of Largo by Robert Mill, master mason 
in Edinburgh. This seems to have been a building of considerable size with 
14 separate rooms and a hall for meeting. Each room had a bed, closet 
and fireplace. Round it was a large garden with a house for the gardener. 
JSy February, 1667, about six patients were in residence there. 2 

The building cost about £1476. In the year 1829, the original building was 
in a wretched state of repair, and the trustees resolved to erect a new hospital. 
In 1830, the present building was erected to provide accommodation for 16 inmates, 
earli having a sitting and a sleeping apartment. In the old hospital each 
inmate was provided with a loom, so that he had the means, if he cared and was 
well enough, of augmenting his monthly instalments from the hospital funds. 
In 1790, twelve old men of the name of Wood, and the wives of all who had 
wives, were accommodated in the building. There are now generally four 
beneficiaries in the hospital, 3 but the slight extent to which it functions 
as a place of medical treatment is indicated by the fact that £5 only is now 
expended as a salary to its medical officer. 

It is a significant fact that more than a year after its completion, this well- 
appointed hospital was less than half full. Very few towns in Scotland during 
the 17th century possessed a hospital at all. The general absence of hospitals 

1 Shearer : " Stirling, Historical and Descriptive," Stirling, 1897, p. 65. 

- Lamont : " The Diary, 1649-1671," Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1830, p. 178. 

3 Cunningham : " Upper Largo, Lower Largo, Lundin Links, and Newburn," Leven, t907, pp. 29-31. 



after the Reformation is connected with the fact that people had not then begun 
to crowd to the towns, while handiwork like weaving, smithwork and carpentry 
was performed by individuals in scattered cottages through the country. When 
sickness occurred, it was a simple matter to conduct treatment in the home, and 
in any case, disease that incapacitated from work (epidemics excepted) was probably 
less common under these conditions than it was later. 

Although a marked improvement in medical treatment of the 17th century 
is observable as compared with that of the 16th, the general want of efficiency 
among those who professed medicine was also partly responsible for the inutility 
of collecting the sick in hospitals. 

When, however, the tendency, which has been called the industrial revolution, 
began in the 18th century, the introduction of steam and other forms of power 
obliged the concentration of workers in the towns. In consequence of this, disease 
became more common, and, at the same time, the practitioners of medicine developed 
both a fuller knowledge and greater skill, so that hospitals were founded as there 
arose a need for them and a possibility of using them to advantage. 

Later After the Reformation a more vigorous attempt was made to reform and restore 

a^hospital * ne nos pitals which had been founded for the poor and sick by pious donors in 
restoration previous centuries. The attempt to recover the ancient deeds of foundation and 
to re-establish the hospitals, whose funds had been diverted to private advantage, 
was now made with greater success by the more democratic parliament. 

In 1567, there was a general resolution for the reformation of hospitals according 
to former Acts, and all donations and dispositions made by Queen Mary and the 
Regent for " bigging of hospitallis " were approved. 1 In 1578, there followed 
a more definite Act for the restoration of hospitals than had ever been passed 
before, and a report on the matter was ordered to be made to the Privy Council 
before the following Easter. 2 In 1579, a similar resolution formed part of an " act 
for pwnishment of the Strang and ydle beggaris and relief of the pure and impotent." 3 
In 158 1, ten commissioners were appointed for the reformation of the hospitals, 
maisondieus, almshouses, and bedehouses and for reducing them to their first 
institution. The Act employs the following somewhat strong language in regard 
to the situation : — 

" That the present possessors of sundrie benefices under colour of reforma- 
tion of the religion have appropriated the whole livings of the said hospitals, 
maisondieus, almshouses and bedehouses to their own uses and their heirs, 
or have sold the lands and rents thereof for great sums of money to others in 
feu farm, and further have demolised the godly houses that were appointed 
for receiving and lodging of the poor and applied the same to their own 
particular uses ... a deed assuredly that in no part of Christendom, 
yea not amongst the very Turks, would be suffered. . . ." 4 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1567, Vol. III., p. 41. 
! Op. cit., 1578, Vol. III., p. 98. 
3 Op. cit., 1579, Vol. III., p. 140. 
* Op. cit., 1581, Vol III., p. 219. 


The commissioners were to visit hospitals if necessary and do everything to 
restore them as originally founded, and in 1592 a new set of commissioners was 
appointed to replace those who had meantime died. 1 

These commissioners at last, after a century and a half of ineffective attempts 
to remedy what had been a notorious evil, acted with determination and apparently 
with success, as shown by the following Acts : — 

In 1584 and 1585 the friar lands of Aberdeen were set aside for the benefit of 
the hospital of that city. 2 

In 1587, as a preliminary measure, various grants which had been made by 
the king, in his minority and apparently under bad advice, out of the funds of 
hospitals and maisondieus, were revoked. 

In the same year a sweeping measure was introduced as regarded the burgh 
of Edinburgh. It was shown that the Town Council of Edinburgh had already spent 
great sums in building a hospital (Trinity Hospital) where the Queen's (Mary of 
Gueldres) Hospital had previously stood, and that they had lately also erected a 
college (now the University of Edinburgh) " for the instruction of the youth in 
learning." The king and parliament therefore ratified the grants made in 1566 
by Queen Mary, the king's mother, of all property, of all religious houses whatsoever, 
situated within this burgh to its Town Council, on the understanding that the 
money would be used for the purposes of these two institutions. 3 This was still 
further secured by Acts of Parliament in 1592 and later. 4 

In 1592, the commissioners dealt with the hospital at Perth, and parliament 
ratified the grants to the hospital in this town of the endowments previously in 
possession of the Blackfriars, Franciscans, Whitefriars and Charterhouse monastery, 
previously existing in Perth. 5 

In the 17th century there followed various Acts of Parliament of minor 
! importance in regard to hospitals. Thus, in 1633, there was another Act against 

the inverting of pious donations for colleges, schools and hospitals which, upon 
J some specious pretences, had been used in a manner different from the disponer's 


In 1641, an Act was passed, with the consent of the General Assembly of 
the Church, to apply certain feu duties derived from ancient chaplainries in 
Aberdeenshire to support a hospital at the Chapel of Garioch, where there had been 
erected for this purpose " ane house of tua houss heighte " at the expense of 
Thomas Erskine of Pittodrie, whose ancestors had held the Barony of Ballhallgardie 
since the time of Robert Bruce. 7 

1 "Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1592, Vol. III., p. 549. 

• Op. cit., 1585, Vol. III., p. 399. 
J Op. cit., 1587, Vol. III., p. 441. 
4 Op. cit., 1592, Vol. III., p. 582. 
' Op. cit., 1592, Vol. III., p. 581. 

* Op. cit., 1633, Vol. V'., p. 22. 

' Op. cit., 1641, Vol. V., p. 513. 


In the budget presented to Parliament in 1659, under Richard Cromwell's 
Protectorate, the expenses of a hospital at Edinburgh are set down at £587 10s. bd. 1 
Finally, in 1696, in the time of King William, the old subject of the misapplication 
of hospital funds came up again. The king in this year is recommended to cause 
all hospitals to be visited, and their rents, revenues, rights and foundations to 
be inspected, so that whatever lands and other property have been misemployed 
may be restored. 2 

The moral to be drawn from this long series of interventions throughout three 
centuries on the part of the king and Parliament on behalf of hospitals, whose 
revenues had been misappropriated or were gradually disappearing, is that no 
hospital in Scotland, supported on a charitable bequest, or managed at the pleasure 
of a private patron or public body, has been able to maintain its permanence. 
It was only in the 18th century when hospitals arose, erected and maintained 
by the living interest and voluntary contributions of those who were directly 
benefited by their continuance, that the hospitals were able to perpetuate their 
existence and increase their efficiency. (See Chapter XVIII.) 

Seal of Trinity Hospital, Edinburgh 
Before the Reformation 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1659, Vol. VI., P- 786. 
* Op. cit., 1696, Vol. X., p. 64. 

Chapter V 1 1 

Medical Renaissance in the Time of James IV. 


During the 15th century the Town Council of Edinburgh appears to have 
become very much exercised about the health of the city and its cleansing, with 
the result that many minutes appear in the records of the burgh during the latter 
half of that century and the early 16th century, containing regulations for the 
prevention of the spread of infectious diseases. 

An objectionable practice of the inhabitants of the city in early times Public 
appears to have been the keeping of swine, which were allowed to wander freelv health 

in the streets and pick up what they could. 
In 1450, it was ordained that all men 
and women who had " swyne " wandering 
in the town should remove them out of the 
town or keep them " in band." If the swine 
were found loose, they were to be forfeited 
and their price applied to the building of 
the kirk. 1 In 1494, various regulations 
were laid down in regard to the sale of 
poultry, geese, flesh and other easily 
corruptible kinds of food. It is quite in 
accord with recent legislation that the 
dealers in poultry, geese and other wild fowl 
were obliged to sell them alive or fresh pulled, and forbidden to "powder" them, 
while any fleshers " powdering " flesh for preservation were liable to have 
this confiscated. 2 

Milk, together with its derivatives, as the state of society was pastoral rather Food 
than agricultural, formed the chief staple of food. Meat or fish was also largely 
used. Oatmeal, which was boiled or baked in cakes, was the cereal mainly cultivated, 
while bread and vegetables were little used, and this may have been productive of 
several diseases. The principal fish was salmon, which seems to have been more 
plentiful in mediaeval Scotland than at the present day, and formed for several 
centuries an important export to England and the Continent. Ale was the only 
form of intoxicating liquor, and spirit was as yet unknown except among the 
remedies of the physician. 3 Coals were excavated in Lothian and used for 

Swine in Edinburgh Streets 
Showing the outside stair, which was a feature of 
old Scottish houses, with the sty beneath it 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," p. 12. 

2 Op. cit., p. 67. 

3 Pinkerton : " History of Scotland," London, 1797. Vol. I., p. 146- 

the foundress of 
Trinity Hospital 

Queen Mary of Cueldres, 
widow of King James II, 
wearing a coronet, is de- 
picted as Saint Cecilia, 
playing on an organ. The 
figure kneeling in the fore- 
ground is that of Sir Edward 
Bonkil, the first Provost of 
Trinity College Church and 
Hospital. The third figure 
is believed to be that of a 
daughter of the Queen. 

The original picture, 
painted as a pane! of the 
altar-piece of Trinity College 
Church, is attributed to 
Hugo van der Goes (about 

It is believed to have been 
carried away by the English 
Army under the Earl of 
Hertford in 1 544. was 
restored to Scotland in 
1857, and is now preserved 
in Holyrood Palace. 

( Reproduced by gracious 
permission of 
II is Majesty KingGeorgeV.) 



wanning the houses in place of wood, a matter which had excited the surprise 
of iEneas Sylvius, afterwards Pope Pius IP, when he visited Scotland in the 
|eign of James I. 1 

With the rise of democracy in the 14th century, Guilds of craftsmen came 
into existence in the towns, forming trades unions with very stringent regulations. 
In Scotland, as in England, the merchant burgesses of the towns were favoured by 
the Crown as an offset to the dangerous power of the nobles. Among other 
Guilds, that of the barbers was in active operation prior to 1451. In that year 
we find Queen Mary of Gueldres exerting her influence to obtain the entrance of 
Aitkyne, a barber, presumably attached to the court, whom she desired to be 
admitted to the Guild. It is evident, from the following Town Council minute, 
that Aitkyne, in addition to practising the minor surgery customary to a barber, 
also acted as an apothecary : — 

" 12th May, 1451. Aitkyne, barbi tonsor, effectus est burgensis ad 
instantiam domine Rcgine gratis datur et etiam conceditur sibi [blank] gilde 
pro tempore vite sue et in amplius vt possit vti libertate gilde tempore vite 
sue, soluendo species et virium nusquam est sibi successurus post obitum ad 
libertatem gilde. 

" Aitkyne, barber, is made burgess at the instance of Our Lady the 
Queen, without payment, and it is also conceded to him [blank] of the guild 
for the period of his life, and further, that he might use the freedom of the 
guild for the period of his life, paying spices and wine, and no one shall succeed 
him in the freedom of the guild after his death." 2 

An incidental reference in a letter from James IV. to the Town Council, 
indicates that a house and booth in the Bellhouse of the city had been occupied 
in the time of his grandsire (James IP, 1431-1460) by an apothecary. The 
letter of 1509 requests that the same house and booth may be assigned to 
I Maister Stephane, ypothegar, sa that he may be enterit thairintil and vse 
the samin with his materiall and spisery sa that he may be fundin thair redy 
to do ws seruice." 3 

An important Act, having reference to the apothecaries, was passed by the Regulation 
Parliament of James IP, which met at Perth on 4th May, 1450. This enacted «f poisons 
that no manner of poison was to be brought into the realm. Even the importation 
of poison was to be regarded as treason, and any person bringing in poison or 
having it in his possession was, if convicted, to forfeit life, land and goods 
to the king. 4 

We may assume that in making regulations for the betterment of the public 
health, which were sometimes apparently initiated at the instance of the king, 

1 Pii II. : " Commentarii," Frankfurt, 1614, p. 4. 

2 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh ol Edinburgh, 1403-1528." p. 12. 
1 Op. cit., p. 125. 

4 "Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1450, Vol. II., p. 39. 


An early 
member of 
the Barbers' 



the Town Council took the opinion of those like Aitkyne who had experience 
qualifying them to give advice. 

The The apothecaries of the 15th century seem to have practised successfully 

apothecaries an( j unostentatiously, but an indication of the drugs they used and of their 
general method of practice may be gained from the medical manuscripts, both 
Latin and Gaelic, to which reference has already been made. There seems to 
have been a tendency to long and imposing prescriptions, which are satirised by 
Robert Henryson (1430-1506), the Dunfermline poet, in " Sum Practysis of 
Medecyne." The fact that a well-known and popular poet should consider 
it worth his while to poke fun at the apothecaries shows that this calling was of 
good standing, and that his humour would be appreciated by all classes of society. 
The following remedies for colic and sleeplessness are two of six humorous 
prescriptions that he gives : — 


Cape cukmaid and crop the colleraige, 

ane medecyne for the maw, and ye cowth mak it, 

with sueit satlingis and sowrokis, The sop of the sege, 

'Die crud of my culome, with your teith crakit ; 

Lawrean and linget seid, and the luffage, 

The hair of the hurcheoun nocht half deill hakkit, 

With the snowt of ane selch, ane swelling to swage ; 

This cure is callit in our craft Diaculcakkit. 

Put all thir in ane pan, with pepper and pik, 

Syne sottin to thiss, 1 

The count of ane sow kiss, For the collik. 1 

Is nocht bettir, I wiss, J 

tion of 


Recipe, thre ruggis of the reid ruke, 
The gant of ane gray meir, The claik of ane guss, 
The dram of ane drekterss, the douk of ane duke, 
The gaw of ane grene dow, The leg of ane lowss, 
fyve vnce of ane fle wing, the fyn of ane fluke, 
With ane sleiffull of slak, that growis in the sluss ; 
myng all thir in ane mass with the mone cruke. 
This vntment is rycht ganand for your awin vss, 
With reid nettill seid in Strang wesche to steip. 
For to bath your ba cod, 1 

quhen ye wald nop and nod ; , To latt yow to sleip. 
Is nocht bettir, be god, 


A considerable amount of activity took place in the reigns of James III. and 
James IV. in the transcription of medical manuscripts. William Schevez had 
brought from the Continent to St. Andrews a number of medical works of earlier 
date, in addition to those already existing in various Scottish religious houses. 

1 " The Poems of Robert Henryson," Edit, by G. Gregory Smith, Edinburgh, 1908, Vol. III., p. 151. 
* Op. cit., p. 151. 



Magnus Makculloch, who transcribed for Schevez Fordun's Scotichronicon, also 
produced for Lord Borthwick at Leith, in the year 14S7, a transcription of the 
"Regimen Sanitatis of Salerno." 1 

In the copy of the Scotichronicon, known as " The Black Book of Paisley," 
is included an account which John of Bordeaux (Sir John de Mandeville) had 
written in Latin in the 14th century regarding the plague. 2 A translation of 
the latter into Scottish dialect called " Ane Tretyse Agayne the Pestilens," appears 
in the Register of the Monastery of Kelso, 3 and dates from this period. The 
following are two extracts describing the nature of plague, the first ingeniously 
accounting for abscesses in the armpit, or the groin, and the second summarising 
the appropriate dietary : — 

" The secunde chapter tellis how this seknes commys and qwhat is the cause thereof. 
In man ar iij principal parts and members, the hart, the lever, and the harnys [kidneys], 
and ilk ane of thir has his clengyng plas quhar he may out his superfluites and clengs him. 
The hart has his clenging plas under the armys, that is in the hoi of the oxster ; the 
clenging plas of the levir is betuix the the [thigh] and the body in the holis ; but the 
clenging plas of the harnys are under the eis or under the throte. Than this ewill comyss 
thus, qwen the porrys ar opyn for swm cause befor sayd, the air venoims entevrs and alson 
menges the mannys blude, and sa rynnis to the hart that is gude and ruth of Lyf, and 
distroves the kvnd of man and slayis him ; the hart fleis kindly the tyngs that is aganvs 
it, and puts the venome to his clinging plas, and for that plas is stoppit that it may not 
out, it passes to the principale partv nest, that is the levir, for to destroy it, and on the 
samyn wyse put it till his clenging plas, and for that alsua is sparyt it may not out, bot passis 
to iij principal partv, that is the harnys, and he puts it till his clenging plas, and it 
may not out there, and thus a lang tyme it is mowand or it rest in any plas xij ours or mar, 
and than at the last within xxiiii houris, gif it be not passand out with bledyng, it festyngs 
in some plas, and casts a man into the agu, and maks a byl or a bolg in some part of the 
iij clenging plasis befor said, or else ner thaim. ........ 

" Als than it is gude to ete potag of almunds and drink tysan, or in the hete, smal ale 
and thyn ; and gif the sekman covet gretly to drynk vyn, gif therfor venager mengyd wyt 
mekyl water, bot gif ye may get gwyt wyn of the Reyn, it is better than rede wyne. Oyse 
mesurably tham all drynks. Alsua it is gude to oyse a powder, that is sud agayn al 
venom, that is made of thir herbys, or of sum of thaim that best be gottyn, soil., Lytan, 
pynpnole, turmentyn, and schavyose, and ij maner of spyces, sett., bolwamil and terra 
sygillata ; thir twa spyces has the self vertu of thir herbys before wrytyn : thir spyciry 
brayde be thaim self, and drunkyn wyt wyn or ale, casts out vename fra the samyn place 
quhan it had entre gif a man be venomed, therefor qwa so dreds him of this seknes, kept 
him fra the tyngs that ar specyfyde in te first chapter." 

A dietary, of which the original composition is attributed to Lydgate (i37 0 ^ 
1451), occurs, turned into Lowland Scottish, along with a manuscript of the Bruce, 
and another poem, also in Lowland Scottish, " How the Good Wife Taught her 
Daughter," in a manuscript written in the year 14S7. 4 In its Scottish form this 

1 4th Report, Royal Commission of Historical MSS., 1874, p. 351. 

2 British Museum, Royal MS. 13 E. x., f. 24. 

3 National Library MS., printed for Bannatyne Club, Vol. II., p. 448; see also Murray: "John de Burdens and 

The Pestilence," Paisley, 1891, p. 30. 

4 MS. St. John's College, Cambridge, 191 (III), f. 167. 



is said to be the work of John de Ramsay. Numerous copies of this poem in English 
are also extant, and parts of it are obviously taken from the " Regimen Sanitatis 
of Salerno." The following are the first two and the last two stanzas of the dietary, 
and give an idea of the whole : — 1 


For heill of thy body, kep wele fra cald thi hede ; 

Ete no raw met, tak gude heid thar to ; 
Drink hailsome aill, fcyd the on licht bred, 

With appetit rise fro thi met also. 
Vith agit women fleschly haue nocht ado. 

Apon thi slepe drink nocht of thi cowpe ; 
Glad toward bed (and) at morow, both two ; 

And oys neuir late for to sowp. 


And gif so beis that lcchis doith the fale, 

Than tak gud hede till oys thyngis thre, 
Temperat dyet, temperat trauale, 

Nocht malicius for none aduersite ; 
Mek in troubill, glad in pouerte, 

Rich of litill, content with sufficians. 
Neuir grunching, bot mery lik thi degre ; 

Gif phisik lakis, mak this thi gouernans. 


Dyne nocht at morow before thine appetit, 

Cleyne air and valking makis gud degestioune ; 
Betuix malys drink nocht for na plesand delit, 

Bot thrist or travale be the occasioune. 
And salt met doith gret oppressioune 

To febill stomokis, quhen thai can nocht restreyne 
Fra thingis contrar to thair complexiounc ; 

Of gredv handis the stomok has gret peyne. 


Thus in two thyngs stondeth all the velth 

Of soull and body, quho so lest thame sew ; 
Modreth fude giffeth to a man his helth, 

And all surfat doith fra hym remew ; 
And cherite is to the saulis dew. 

This rescript both is of no potyngary, 
Of master Anton nor of master hew. 

Till all indifferent riches is dyetary. 

James IV. : King James IV. (1473-1513) was an enlightened monarch, who, despite his 

in^ied^cine faults, did much for the arts and commerce of His country. Among other 
branches of human activity, his foresight and perhaps his inquisitiveness, led him 
to take a special interest in medical affairs. A contemporary historian 

1 Barbour: "The Bruce," Edit, by Skeat. London, 1874, p. 537. 



remarks of him : " In the meane tyme this nobil] King James the tourt 
was weill leirnit in the art of mediecein and also ane cuning sorugenar 
that nane in his realme that wssit [used] that craft bot wald tak his 
counsall in all proceidingis." 1 Buchanan also says of him : " He greedily 
imbibed an ancient custom of the nobility, for he was skilful in curing 

His self-confidence as 
a surgeon possibly led him 
at times to undertake 
operations which he could 
not successfully accom- 
plish. In his treasurer's 
accounts there is an 
ominous entry : — 

10 April, 1501. "Item, 
giliin to ye blind wif yat hed 
her eyne schorne xiiijs." 2 

This very probably refers 
to an attempt on the 
part of James to couch 
cataracts, with an un- 
successful result. Fourteen 
shillings does not seem too 
much compensation to 
receive for loss of vision. 

Lindesay of Pitscottie 
records a case which 
illustrates James's curi- 
osity in matters of physi- 
ology. A man child was 
born with two bodies 

king James tv. (1473-.513) from the waist upwards. 

(Original prcseiDtd in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery) 1 he king Caused him to 

be carefully brought up 
and taught, and he lived to the age of 28 years. 

These united twins were born in the neighbourhood of Glasgow about the year in 
1490, and partly by reason of the singularity of the case, as well as from the attention physiology 
paid to them by King James, and the fact that he had them brought up at the 
Scottish court, they attracted great attention at the time. Accounts of them are 
also given by Buchanan 3 and Drummond of Hawthorn den. 4 Buchanan mentions 

1 Lindesay of Pitscottie : " Cronicles of Scotland," Vol. I., Book XX., Chap. VII., p. 235. 

2 "Accounts of the lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Vol. II., p. 102. 

3 Buchanan : " History of Scotland," Glasgow, 1827, Vol. II., p. 227. 

4 Drumnu.iid : " History of Scotland," London, 1680, p. 202. 


Case of 



Interest in 

Practice in 
blood-k it in 

that one of the twins died several days before the other, and, as the dead body- 
became putrescent, the other wasted away by degrees. Lindesay's account of 
the matter runs as follows : — 

" In this meane tyme thair was ane great marwell sene in Scottland. Ane bairne 
was borne, raknit to be ane man chvkl bot frome the waist wpe was tuo fair persouns 
witht all memberis and protratouris perteinand to tua bodyis, to wit, tua hcidis wcill 
evit, weill eirit and weill handit be tua bodyis ; the on bak was to the wtheris, bot frome 
the waist done they war bot on personage and could not weill knaw be the Ingyne of man 
quhilk of the tua bodyis the legis and previe memberis proceidit. Notwithtstanding, the 
kingis maiestie gart tak great cure and deliegence wpoun the wpbringing of thir tuo bodyis 
in ane personage, gart nurische them and leir them to pley and singe wpoun the instrumentis 
of musick quho war become in schort tyme werie ingeneous and cunning in the art of 
musick quhairby they could pleay and singe tuo pairtis, the on the tribill the wther the 
tennour quhilk was werie dulse and melodious to heir be the common pepill quho treatit 
thame wondrous weill. Allso they could speik sindrie and dyuerse langagis, that is to 
say Latine, Frinche, Italieans, Spanis, Dutch, Dens and Inglische and Earische. Thir 
tuo bodyis lang conteinuant to the aige of xxviij zeiris and than the ane depairtit lang 
befoir the wther quhilk was dollorous and heavie to the langest levar. ffor quhilk men 
requyrit of him and bad him be mirrie, he ansuerit and said : ' How cane I be merrie 
that hes my trew marrow as ane deid carieoun wpoun my bak, quhilk was wont to singe 
and pleay with me to commone and talk in lyke maner. Ouhene I was sade he wald 
gif me comfort and I wald do lykewise wnto him ; bot now I haue nothing bot dollour 
of the beiring of so heavie ane burthine, deid and eald, wndesolluit on my bak, quhilk takis 
all eardlie plesour frome me in this present lyfe. Thairfoir I pray to allmightie god to 
delyuer me out of this present lyfe that we may be laide and dissollwit in the earth quhair 
fre we come.' " 1 

The same historian naively records an experiment in the domain of psychology, 
which the king carried out in the year 1493 : — 

" And also the King gart [caused] tak ane dum woman and pat hir in Inchkeytht 
[the Island of Inchkeith] and gaif [gave] hir tua zoung bairnes in companie witht hir and 
gart furnische them of all necessar thingis ... to knaw quhat langage thir bairnes wald 
speik quhene [when] they come to lauchfull aige. Sum sayis they spak goode hebrew 
bot as to my self 1 knaw not." 2 

The Lord High Treasurer's Accounts have an entry for 24th May, 1491 : — 
" Item, to Gybbe Browne, to ryd to Paysla for James Leyche to Andro Wod." 3 

This was probably the celebrated admiral of James IV., Andrew Wood, who 
distinguished himself in naval actions against the English. It is not clear why 
a physician should have been fetched post-haste from Paisley to treat him, but 
the result was evidently successful, as Wood recovered and lived till 1539. 

Bleeding in the springtime was a regular practice, and James followed the 
g usual routine in this matter. He must have been greatly pleased with the 
operation, for an entry runs : — 

1 49.1. " Item, to Domynico, to gif the King leve to kit him blud, xviijs." 4 

1 Lindesay of Pitscottie : " The Histor'e and Cronicles of Scotland," Scottish Text Society, Edinburgh and London, 

1899, Vol. I., p. 233. 

2 Lindesay of Pitscottie : Op. cit., Vol. L, p. 237. 

a " Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1877, Vol. I., p. 177- 
4 Op. cit., p. 177- 



James apparently carried out the procedure himself with the leave of Domynico 
and presented the patient with the same fee which he himself had to pay to the 
leech for blooddetting from his own person, for on 27th May of the same year 
there is an entry : — 

" Item, til a leyche that leyt the King blud, xviijs." 1 

In 1496, James visited a patient who had been operated upon for the stone. 
Although apparently he did not venture upon this operation himself, he gave the 
patient a charitable grant : — 

Item, to a man beside Coupir in Angus, that was new schorn of the stane, iijs. vjd." 2 

A generous payment was made by the king to a leech who operated upon 
Brother John Litster for hernia, an entry running as follows : — 

1505. " Item, to him he gaif the lech that helit frer Johne Litstair of rymbirst and 
for his expens, vij li. vj s. viij d." 3 

James appears to have been a generous patron of physicians to whom he Patronage of 
repeatedly ordered grants to be made, although in several instances the treasurer's physicians 11 
disapprobation may be gathered from the fact that he does not trouble to find 
out their names, but refers to them as the " aid leich," the " leich with the yallow 
hair," etc. The following are some of the entries with the sums they received : — 

1500. " Item, the xiiij day of Februar, be the Kingis command, giffin to the Ireland 
leich, xxviijs." 4 

1 501. " Item, to Anthon Fedanis, leich, be the Kingis command, iiij Franch croiuiis, 
summa lvjs." 5 

1501. " Item (the xx da}- of March), to the aid leich that James Douglas brocht furth 
(of Air), be the Kingis command, xiiijs." 8 

1501. " Item, be the Kingis command, to the leich with the curland hair, v Franch 
crounis, summa iij li. x s." 7 

1502. " Item, to the leich with the yallow hair, be the Kingis command, iiij Franch 
crounis, summa lvj s." 8 

1502. " Item, to Foulartoun, the leich, to by stuf, be the Kingis command, iij li. 
x s." s 

1504. " Item, to Maister Robert Schaw, be the Kingis command, quhen he passit to 
Bothuile, to the lady Hand seke, v Franch crounis, summa vij li." 10 

1504. " Item, to William Foular, for ane blud stane and thre unce uthir stuf for the 
Quene for bkding of the nes efter ane ressait of Maister Robert Schaw, xxij s."" 

1503. " Item, payit be the Kingis command, to Bardus Altovite, Lumbard, for 
Maister Johne, the Franch medicinar, new maid Abbot of Tungland, quhilk he audit to 
the said Bardus, xxv li." 12 

1 " Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1877, Vol. 1., p. 176. 

2 Op. cit., p. 305. 

2 Op. cit., Vol. III., p. 156. 
■ Op cit., Vol. II., p. 97. 

6 Op. cit., p. 132. 
' Op. cit., p. 141. 

7 Op. cit., p. 140. 

8 Op. cit., p. 153. 
• Op. cit., p. 340. 

1 0 Op. cit., p. 436. 

11 Op. cit., p. 477. 

12 Op. cit., p. 423. 



Practice as a Healing of an ulcerated leg was another cure which the king carried out with 
derrtist 1 success, as indicated by an item in November, 1504 : — 

" Item, to James Dog, quhilk he laid doun for claith to be wippes to John Balfouris 
sair leg quhilk the King helit, ij s. viij d." 1 

The king was also a patron of the dentist's art, and on several occasions 
patients suffering from toothache submitted to a trial of his skill at Holyrood and 
accepted his largesse. In 1503, he had provided himself with " ane turcas to tak 
out teith," 2 and later (1507) he paid 2s. to " Alane Coquheran for ane irn to 
byrn sair teeth." 3 In the earlier year there is an item : — 

1503. " Item, payit to the Abbot of Cambuskinneth, that he gaif to the barbour 

that com to tak furth the Kingis tuth, xiiij s." 1 

A little later, in 151 1, the king took the matter in hand himself, and there 
is an item : — 

" Item, the ix day of Februar, to ane fallow, because the King pullit furtht his twtht, 

xiiijs " ; 5 

and again the roles of patient and operator were reversed when James pulled 
out two of his barber-surgeon's teeth, although at the regulation fee of 14s., 
which was paid by operator to patient : — 

151 1. " Item, to Kynnard the barbour for tua teith drawin furtht of his hed be the 
King, j Franch croun, xiiij s." 6 

There is a moving little item which possibly refers to a touch for the King's 
Evil or scrofula : — 

1508. " Item, to ane pure barne that tuke the King be the hand, iij s." ' 

The king from time to time made extensive purchases of medicines or chemicals. 
Thus, in 1503, John Mossman was sent over to Flanders to buy material, his 
travelling expenses costing 42s. In the previous year, William Foular, fur a year's 
supply of these materials, received from the king £34 5s. 5</. ; and again, in 1504, 
the materials supplied to the queen in Stirling by the same William Foular, are 
specified at a price of £3 8s. 

1503. " Item, to Johne Mosman, potingair, to his expens to pas to the see for to pas 
in Flandrez for stuf to the King, xlij s." 8 

1502. " Item, tlie xxiiij day of Januar payit to William Foular, potingair, for certane 
stuf tane fra him for the King be the space of ane yeir bipast, xxxiiij li. v s. v d." s 

1504. " Item, to William Foular, potingair, for half ane pund galiga, half ane pund 
lang piper, half ane pund cannell, Hire mice cubebarum, vij urinales, and other stuf send to 
Stnvehn to the Queue, of sindri prices, iij li. viij s."'° 

Interest in In addition to his medical and surgical pursuits, King James IV. took a special 

alchemy anc j p rac ti C al interest in alchemy with a double purpose. It was supposed at 
that time that the four elements — fire, air, earth and water — were the indispensable 

1 "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1S77, Vol. II., p. 465. 

2 Op. cit., p. 419. 

3 Op. cit., Vol. IV., p. 77. 

4 Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 409. 

6 Op. cit., Vol. IV., p. 330. 

• Op. cit., p. 332. 

7 Op. cit., p. 114 

• Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 365. 
» Op. cit., p. 356. 

»» Op. cit., p. 445- 


components of the whole of nature, but shared a fifth principle known as the 
"quintessence." This quintessence was supposed to have a special purifying, 
revivifying, rejuvenating property, and it was believed that, if found, it would 
have the power to rehne other metals into gold, to heal disease, and to rejuvenate 
the body and prolong human life beyond its ordinary bounds. King James was 
therefore specially desirous of succeeding where previous alchemists had failed, 
both for the immediate necessity of finding gold, and for the beneficent purpose of 
alleviating disease. 

There is a letter of 1508 from the king to James Inglis, a person who held 
various religious benefices in Cambuskenneth and elsewhere, and who apparently 
took much interest in this science. The following is a translation of the king's 
Latin letter, which thanks him for certain books on alchemy which were to be 
handed over to the king : — 

James, by the grace of God King of Scots, to his beloved Mr. James Inglis, greeting : 
We have received with pleasure the proof you have given of your friendly disposition in 
intimating in your letters to us that secret books, containing the sounder philosophy of 
alchemy, are in your possession ; and that although most worthy men were soliciting these 
works from you. you have kept them, though with great difficulty, for our use, because 
you had heard that we were engaged in the study of that art. We give you thanks, and 
will give you due recompense when occasion requires, and have despatched a confidential 
messenger, James Merehcinstoun, to you, who will take charge of such books as you may 
wish to transmit to us, and whom you will trust in our name. Farewell. At our palace 
of Edinburgh," etc. 1 

His chief associate in his alchemical experiments, however, was John Damian, Experiment 
a Frenchman or Italian, a man of pleasing address and great ingenuity, who, in p^mian 
1501, held an appointment as physician in the royal household. In one of the 
poems of Dunbar he is said to have practised surgery and other arts in France 
before he arrived in Scotland, and the various references to the French leech, 
Maister John, the French mediciner, etc., in "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer," 
indicate payments to him. Various chemicals were ordered for him from the 
Low Countries, and on one occasion at least he was sent to the Continent to fetch 
material. On several occasions gold was handed over to him for the purpose of 
being " multiplied," and another important material for the chemical experiments 
was wine, from which the quintessence was distilled. These facts appear from 
the following items in the treasurer's accounts. 

1501. " Item, the thrid day of March send to Strivelin iiij Hary nobles and . . . 
to the leich for to multiply, summa ix li." 2 

29th May, 1502, to Robert Bertoune, " for certane droggis brocht hame be him to the 
Franch leich, xxxj li. iiijs." 3 

1502. " Item, giffin to the Franch leich, quhen he passit his way, be the Kingis 
command, iij Franch crounis ; summa ij' x li." ' 

The king was on terms of great intimacy with Damian, as appears 
from the fact that they constantly played cards and dice with one another. 
In 1504, the king appointed him Abbot of Tungland in Galloway, apparently 

1 Epist. Keg. Scot., No. lxxii. To Mr. James Inglis. 

" "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1877, Vol. II., p. 138. 
3 Op. cit., p. 148. 
• Op. cit., p. 149. 



in flying 

Search for 
the quintes- 

not with the intention that he should devote himself to religious duties, but 
that he might have more leisure for carrying on his experiments. Indeed, 
Dunbar says of him : " This Dignitary never chose to go to Mass though warned 
by the holy bell or skellat." He never put on religious vestments lest they 
should be defiled with the smoke of his laboratory. 

Another line in which the inventive genius of this prelate showed itself, and 
in which he was probably abetted by the king, was in one of the earliest attempts 
to construct an aeroplane on the principle of the gliders which developed towards 
the end of the 19th century. An account of his unsuccessful experiment to 
glide from the wall of Stirling Castle to the plain below, with Damian's quaint 
explanation of his failure, is given by Bishop Lesley : — 

" This tyme thair wes ane Italiane with the King, quha wes maid Abbott 
of Tungland, and wes of curious ingyne. He causet the King believe that 
he, be multiplyinge and utheris his inventions, wold make fine golde of uther 
mettall, quhilk science he callit the quintassence ; quhairupon the King 
maid greit cost, bot all in vaine. This Abbott tuik in hand to flie with wingis, 
and to be in Fraunce befoir the saidis ambassadouris ; and to that effect he 
causet mak ane pair of wingis of fedderis, quhilkis beand fessinit apoun him, 
he flew of the castell wall of Striveling, bot shortlie he fell to the ground and 
brak his thee (thigh) bane ; bot the wyt thairof he asscryvit to that thair was 
sum hen fedderis in the wingis, quhilk yarnit and covet the mydding and not 
the skyis." 1 

After his recovery from the effects of this accident, Damian, on 8th September, 
1508, was granted leave by the king to pass out of the realm and study where he 
pleased for the space of five years " without incurring any hurt, prejudice or skaith 
anent the abbay and place of Tungland." He was back again in Scotland before 
the king's death, and on 29th March, 1513, £20 was paid " to the Abbot of Tungland 
to pass to the myne of Crawford Moor." The king at this time had workmen 
busy upon this mine, from which gold had been obtained. 

Prior to the unfortunate attempt at flight, chemical laboratories were busy 
both at Stirling and Cambuskenneth, and numerous payments are recorded for the 
distillation of the quinta essencia, including wages, charges for utensils, coals and 
wood for the furnaces and other materials such as quicksilver, aqua vitae, wine, 
lithargyrum auri, fine tin, brint silver, alum, salt, eggs, saltpetre, etc. The 
following entries between 1502 and 1508 from the treasurer's accounts show how 
busily these laboratories were engaged : — 

1502. " Item, the vij day of Januar, be the Kingis command, to quinta essencia, 

xlij s." 1 

" Item (xx Februar), for v pund quyksilver for the furnes of quinta essencia, xx s." 3 
" Item, the xvj day of March, for xxv| pund of quik silver, quhilk yeid to Strivelin to 
mak quinta essencia thare, of divers pricis, iiij li. vij s. x d." ' 

1 Lesley : " The History of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1830, p. 76. 

* "Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1877, Vol. 11., p. 357. 

3 Op. cit., p. 359. 

4 Op. cit., p. 362. 



Item, for xij pund litargiri auri, ilk pund v s. summa iij li." 1 
" Item, for ixf pund of fyne tyn, ilk pund xiij d. ; summa xj s. i d." 2 

Item, to quinta essencia, be the Kingis command, and dischargyt xx unicornis to 
himself (Johne Auchlek, goldsmyth) and his fadir ; summa xviij !i." 3 

1503. " Item, the penult day of March, to ane boy that kepit the furnes fire, by the 
Kingis command, vj s. viij d." 4 

" Item, the viij day of September, payit to Andro Aytoun that he laid doun at divers 
tymes for pottis of lame to Maister Alexander Ogilvy for the furnesses in Strivelin 
xiiij s." s 

" Item, payit to Schir Andro Aytoun for xxv pund of allum to Maister Alexander 
Ogilvy, and quinta essencia, xiiij s. vij d." 6 

" Item, to the said Andro he laid doun for ane mortair of metall, weyand thrc stanc xj 
pund, for Maister Alexander Ogilvv and quinta essencia, iij li. ix s." 1 

" Item, for colis to quinta essencia xj ovvkis cftir Pasch, iij li. xvij s." 8 

" Item (xxiiij October) to Andro Aytoun, that he gaif for chercole to quinta essencia 
in Strivelin, iiii s." 9 

1507. " Item (xxix September), for aqua vite to the quinta essencia, vij s."' u 

" Item (xxx September), to the boy that kepis the quinta essencia, iij s " " 

" Item, the xxvj dav of November, for ccrtane irne graith to the quinta essencia, maid 

be the smyth of Cambuskinneth, xviij s." 1 '- 

" Item (xxij December), to the smyth of Cambuskinneth for making of ane irn kist for 

quinta essencia, xiiij s." 13 

" Item (xxxj December), payit to Andro Aytoun quhilk he laid doun for wod, colis, and 

Caldwellis wage for quinta essencia, v li. xix s. x d." 11 

1507. " Item, the penult day of Januar, to Johne Mosman for stuf to the quinta 

essencia, x li. vj s." 13 

" Item (vij Februar), payit to Andro Aytoun for lvij laid coles to quinta essencia sen 
Yule, ilk laid v d ; summa, xxiij s. ix d." " 

" Item, for xviij laid wod to the samvn, ix s." 17 
" Item, to Caldwellis wage, xxviij s." 1 " 

" Item (xxiiij Februar), for iiij pycharis to quinta essencia, v s." 18 

" Item (v March), for ij pund sal aramomakle to quinta essencia, iij li. x s." 211 

" Item, for vj pund quyk silvir, xxiiij s." 21 

" Item, for coles and wod for the quinta essencia in Strivelin, iij li. iij s. vj d." 22 
" Item, to Caldwell ane monethis wage, xxviij s." 23 

1 " Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1S77, Vol. II, p. 362. 

• Op. cit., p. 362. 

3 Op. cit., p. 362. 

« Op. cit. p. 364. 

5 Op. cit., p. 393. 

« Op. cit., p. 393. 

' Op. cit., p. 393. 

8 Op. cit., p. 393. 

' Op. cit., p. 40.:. 

10 Op. cit., Vol. IV., p. 77. 

11 Op. cit., p. 77. 
18 Op. cit., p. 86. 

13 Op. cit., p. 90. 

14 Op. cit., p. gz. 

15 Op. cit., p. 98. 
18 Op. cit., p. 99. 

17 Op. cit., p. 99. 

18 Op. cit., p. 99. 

1 8 Op. cit., p. 102. 
80 Op. cit., p. 104. 
21 Op. cit., p. 104. 
8 8 Op. cit., p. 104. 
83 Op. cit., p. 104. 



With regard to the actual nature of the quintessence, it is evident that when 
wine had been distilled five times, the distillate must have been almost pure alcohol, 
and it is easy to suppose that King James and Damian may have believed that 
they were close to discovering a rejuvenating and life-prolonging principle in a 
material of which a very little could put them into a state of great " hignes of 
glorificatioun." 1 

These experiments came to an abrupt end with the death of James upon the 
field of Flodd en in September, 1513- His son James V. continued the mining 
operations which his father had commenced, and in 1526 gave a grant of the 
Scottish mines to a company of Germans who worked for many years laboriously 
in Clydesdale, and are supposed to have enriched themselves by extracting 
quantities of gold. 

Alchemy was continued through the reign of King James VI. by such men as Later pro- 
Sir George Erskine, of Innertiel, one of the senators of the College of Justice, whose f^em 
alchemical books are preserved by the College of Physicians at Edinburgh, 
to which they were presented in 1707 by his grandson, the Earl of Cromarty; 2 
John Napier of Merchiston, inventor of logarithms ; Sir David Lindsay, first 
Earl of Balcarres ; Patrick Kuthven, one of the Gowrie conspirators, who in 
later life practised as a physician in London, and whose commonplace 
book on alchemy is preserved in the University Library at Edinburgh ; 
Alexander Seton, of Edinburgh ; Patrick Scott, of Falkland ; and others, who 
attained not merely to local, but even to European reputation. Like King 
James IV., they stimulated and kept alive in Scotland the spirit of inquiry into 
matters pertaining to chemical science, which later produced men like Black, 
Gregory and Graham, by whom important processes were discovered and useful 
drugs successfully extracted. 

The interest taken by King James IV. in the treatment of the new disease 
" grantgore," and his early regulations for the prevention of plague, are mentioned 
in Chapter IX. 

The Seal of Cause granted by the Town Council to the surgeons and barbers Charter to 

in the vear 1^0^, was probably given at the instance of King Tames IV., and in the , f ur g eons 
J °' 1 .... . and barbers 

any case it was confirmed by him in the following year. This document has of Edinburgh 

important contemporary relations. Public dissections had been carried out 

in most of the universities in the 14th and 15th centuries (Venice from 1368), 

but this was the first enactment on the subject in Britain, preceding even the law 

of Henry VIII. in 1540, by which four bodies of executed criminals were granted 

to the surgeons and barbers of London. In the latter year, too, Henry VIII. 

granted to the surgeons and barbers of London privileges very similar to 

those granted by James IV. to the Edinburgh company in 1506. 

1 Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1875, Vol. XI., p. 183. 
1 Op. cit., p. 561. 

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The books available at this time for the study of anatomy were small 
compendiums, like those of Mondino of Bologna and Henri de Mondeville of Paris 
and Montpellier, and it is quite probable that copies of these had been brought to 

Vesalius, whose " De Fabrica Humani Corporis " (1543) is regarded as 
the commencement of anatomical renaissance, was not born till 1514, and the 
desire for anatomical study in Edinburgh is, therefore, independent, and is a 
proof of the high aspirations of 15th century medicine in Scotland. 

In the larger Scottish towns, as in other countries, barbers practised minor 
surgery. As we have seen, there is a reference as early as 145 1 to barbers in a 
Guild at Edinburgh. By the year 1505, when various craftsmen were applying 
to the Town Council for charters, the barbers, together with the surgeons in 
the city, united to apply to the Provost, Baillies and Council of the Burgh for 
recognition of the two callings joined in a single Guild. 

It is evident from the application, in which two crafts are mentioned 
throughout, that along with barbers there existed at this time a superior 
calling of surgeons. The surgeons presumably were too few in number 
to form a Guild of their own, and thus united with the barbers, just as 
at Florence, in the previous century, the physicians had included in their 
Guild artists and literary men, who contributed much to the fame and 
standing of the Guild. The two crafts had for some time maintained an altar, 
dedicated to St. Mungo, in the church of St. Giles. This was supported by the 
entrance charges to the Guild and a weekly subscription of one penny. 

The petition asked that their yearly election of a churchmaster and overman 
(in later years called the Deacon) should be recognised by the Town Council ; 
that the Guild should have the sole right of practising the crafts of the surgeon 
and barber within the burgh, and that they should have the right to examine 
everyone presenting himself for entrance to the Guild in his knowledge of anatomy, 
complexion of the body, position of the veins, domination of the signs of the 
zodiac and ability to read and write. They also petitioned for the body of a 
criminal to anatomise once in the year. 

The entrance fee was to be £5, together with a dinner by the candidate 
to the already-existing masters of the craft. The Guild was also to have a 
chaplain to perform daily services before their altar and an officer to collect the 
dues and precede them in processions. 

Another privilege craved was that the members of the crafts should have 
the sole right to manufacture and sell aqua vita? within the burgh. 1 These 
petitions were granted by the Town Council at Edinburgh on the 1st of July, 
1505, and were ratified in the following year by King James IV. 

1 This was not so great a privilege in days when the national drink of Scotland was " aill," as it might now appear, but 
if the monopoly to make and sell whisky in Edinburgh had not been allowed to lapse, the Royal College of Surgeons 
would to-day be one of the wealthiest corporations in the country. 


Granted to the Guild of Surgeons and Barbers at Edinburgh by the 
Magistrates on ist July, 1505, and confirmed by King James IV. on 

13TH October, 1506 

(From the original preserved in the ''Records of the Town Council of the City of Edinburgh" ') 

C7*.V^«P- <V»* ^ y\-*nft: yr w f ^..^Vr ft*^ i(^ n ^ vfh.K «X 

,.,JV» ?«--»«-- VkA« tS^^i^* ' 

* wr?!^ filf ifn6jn>&t -{'An* aft pCefim*- Auft**; +nit>Jyfcf <-^j «« 
, -orTtm 

Seal of Cause (/«<>* l) 


* >f 0* Vnn^f yO „ 


'7/ ~/ ^A f vJf - 

TO- -VfTW- 

Seal of Cause II) 



Seal of Cause (fiage III) 

The Seal of Cause runs as follows in the " Records of the Town Council " : — 

The copye of ye Barboris Seall of Cause as followis 

" To all and sindrie to quhais knaulege thir present letteris sail cum, the prouest 
baillies and counsale of the burgh of Edinburgh, greiting in God euirlesting : Witt 
[know] your vniuersities thatt the day of the dait of thir presentis comperit befoir me, 
sittand in jugement in the Tolbuith of the said burgh, the kirkmaister and brother of 
the Sueregianis and Barbouris within the samyn, and presentit till me thair bill and 
supplicatioun desyring ws for the louing of God, honour of oure Souerane Lord and all 
his liegis, and for worschip and policy of this burgh, and for the gude reull and ordour to 
be had and maid amangis the saidis craftis in tymes to cum, thatt we wald grant and 
consent to thame the privilegis reullis and statutis contenit in thair said bill and 
supplicatioun quhilk efter follows : 

" To yow my loirdis provest baillies and worthy counsall of this gude tovne, richt 
humblie meins and schawis your daylie servitouris the kirkmaister and brother of 
Chirurgeonis and Barbouris within this burgh, that quhair [where] we boleve itt is weill 
knawen till all your wisdomis quhow thatt we vphald ane altar situat within your 
College Kirk of Sanct Geill in the honour of God and Sanct Mongow our patrone, and 
hes na importance to vphald the samyn bot oure sober oulklie [weekly] penny and 
vpsettis [entrance fees], quhilk ar small in effect till sustene and vphald oure said altar in 
all necessar thingis convenient thairto, and because we ar and ever was of gude mynde 
till do this gude tovne all the steid plesour and seruice than we can or may, baith in 
walking and wairding stenting [assessing] and bering of all vther portabill chairges within 


this burgh at all tymes, as vther nichtbouris and craftis dois within the samyn, we desyre 
at your lordship and wisdomes till [to] geve and grant to ws and oure successouris thir 
reulis statutis and previlegis vndir written, quhilkis [which] ar consonant to resoun, 
honour till oure Souerane Lord and all his lieges, proffeitt and lowabill to this gude 
tovne : In the first, that we orient have yeirlie chosin amangis ws ane kirkmaister and 
ourisman [overman] to quhome the haill brether of the craftis foirsaid sail obey for thatt 
yeir : Item, that na maner of persoun occupie nor vse ony poyntis of our saidis craftis 
of Surregenie or Barbour craft within this burgh bott gif [unless] he be first frieman and 
burges of the saymn, and thatt he be worthy and expert in all the poyntis belangand the 
saidis craftis diligentlie and avysitlie examinit and admittit be the maisters of the said 
craft for the honorabill seruying of oure Souerane Lord his liegis and nychtbouris of this 
burgh, and als [also] that euerie man that is to be maid freman and maister amangis ws 
be examit and previt in thir poyntis following, thatt is to say, that he knaw anotamell 
[anatomy], nature and complexion of euery member humanis bodie, and inlykewayes he 
knaw all the vaynis of the samyn, thatt he may mak flewbothomell [phlebotomy] in dew 
tyme, and als thatt he knaw in quhilk [which] member the signe hes domination for the tyme, 
for euery man aucht to knaw the nature and substance of euery thing thatt he werkis, 
or ellis he is negligent ; and that we may have anis [once] in the yeir ane condampnit 
man efter he be deid to mak antomell of, quhairthraw we may haif experience, ilk ane to 
instrict vtheris, and we sail do suffrage for the soule ; and that na barbour, maister nor 
seruand, within this burgh hantt [practise] vse nor exerce the craft of Surregenrie without 
he be expert and knaw perfytelie the thingis abouewritten : and quhat person sal happin 
to be admittit frieman or maisteris to the saidis craftis, or occupeis ony poynt of the 
samyn, sail pay at his entry for his vpsett [entrance fee] fyve pundis vsuall money of this 
realme of Scotland to the reparatioun and vphalding of oure said altar of Sanct Mongow 
for deuyne [divine] seruice to be done thairatt, with ane dennar to the maisteris of the 
saidis craftis at his admissioun and entres amangis ws ; exceptand that euery frieman 
maister of the saidis craftis ane of his lawful gottin sonnis to be trie of ony money pay- 
ment, except the dennar to be maid to the maisteris efter he be exeminit and admitted 
be thame as said is : Item, that na maisteris of the said craft sail tak ane prenteis or 
feit [hired] man in tyme cuming to vse the Surregeane craft without he can baithe 
wryte and reid, and the said maister of ony of the saidis craftis that takis ane prenteis 
sail pay at his entres to the reparatioun of the said alter tuenty schillingis ; and that 
na maister of the said craft resset [steal away] nor ressave [receive] ane vther maisteris 
prenteis or seruand quhill [till] the ische [end] of his termes be run, and quha that dois in 
the contrair thairof, as oft as he failyies, sail pay xx s. to the reparatioun of the said alter 
but [without] fauvouris. Item, euery maister that is resauit frieman to the said craft 
sail pay his oulklie penny with the priestis meit as he sail happen to cum about, and 
euery seruand that is feitt [hired] man to the maisteris of the said craft sail pay ilk oulk 
[week] ane half-peny to the said alter and reparatioun thairof ; and that we haif powar 
to cheise [choose] ane chaiplane till do devyne seruice daylie at our said alter at all tymes 
quhen the samyn sail vaik [be vacant], and till cheis ane officiar till pas with ws for the 
ingathering of oure quarter payment and oulklie pennies, and to pass befoir ws on 
Corpus Christy day and the octauis thairof, and all vther generall processionis and 
gatheringis, siclike as vtheris craftis hes within this burgh ; and that ane of the maisteris 
of the foirsaid craftis, with the chaiplane and officiar of the samyn, pas at all tymes neidfull 
lift [collect] and rais the saidis quarter paymentis fra euery persoun that aw the samyn, 
and gif ony dissobeyis that we may poynd [seize] and distrenye [distrain] thairfoir all 
tymes haifand ane officiar of the tovne with us : Item, that na man nor freman of the 
said craft purches ony lordschip incontrair [contrary to] the statutis and rewlis aboue 
written, in hindering or skaithing [damaging] of the craftis foirsaidis or commoun weill 
thairof, vnder the payne of tynsall [loss] of thair friedomes. Item, that all the maisteris 
friemen and brether of the said craft reddelie obey and cum to thair kirkmaister at 
all tymes quhen thay sal be requyritt thairto be the said officiar for to heir quarter 

Surgeons and 
barbers to 
elect an 



Entry fee 

to write and 





comptis [accounts], or till avyse for ony thing concernyng the commoun weill of the 
saidis craftis, and quha thatt disobeyis sail pay xx s. to the reparatioun of the said altar ; 
Monopoly of and that na persoun man nor woman within this burgh mak nor sell ony aquavite within 

aqua vitae the samyn except the saidis maisteris brether and friemen of the saidis craftis vnder the 

pane of escheit of the samyn but fauouris. Beseking heirfoir your lordschippis and 
wisdomes at the reuerence of God that ye will avise with thir oure sempill desyris statutis 
rewlis and privilegis abouewritten, and grant ws the samyn ratefeit and apprevit be yow 
vnder your seill of cause, and with the grace of God we sail do sic seruice and plesour to 
the Kingis grace and gude tovne that ye salbe contentit thairof, and your delyuerance 
heirintill humblie I beseik. 

" The quhilk bill of supplicatioun with the reullis statutis and privilegis contenit thairen- 
till being red befoir ws in jugement, and we thairwith beand ryplie [fully] and distinctlie 
avysit, thinkis the samyn consonant to resoun and na hurt to our Souerane Lordis Hienes, 
ws, nor nane vtheris his liegis thairintill, and thairfoir we consent and grantis the samyn to 
the foirsaidis craftis of Surregenry and Barbouris and to thair successouris, and in sa far 
as we may or hes powar, confirmis ratefeis and apprevis the saidis statutis reullis and 
privilegis in all poyntis and articlis contenit in the supplicatioun abouewritten; and to all 
and syndrie quhome it efferis [concerns] or may effere we mak it knawin be thir our lettres; 
and for the mair verificatioun and strenth of the samyn we haif to hungin [appended] our 
commoun seill of cause, at Edinburgh, the first day of the moneth of July the yeir of God 
ane thousand fyve hundreth and fyve yeris." 1 

The Seal of Cause was confirmed by James IV. under the Privy Seal at 
Edinburgh on the 13th October, 1506. 

" Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," pp. 101-104. 

Chapter V 1 1 1 

Practice at Edinburgh and Elsewhere in 
the Sixteenth Century 

I N addition to the surgeons who practised in the burghs, there were at this District 
time royal surgeons who had country districts placed under their care, and who ^f^th' 
were paid by lands or fees from the Crown revenues much in the same way as century 
parish doctors now receive allowances from the local authorities. Thus, 
Henry Railston had an annual fee of six merks from the rents of Kere Lawmond 
and Little and Meikle Lupas in Bute during his life, for the surgical art which 
he rendered at the instance of the king and queen. Another royal surgeon, 
John Watson, received £21 is. 6^. annually, though this was later reduced to 
£14 is. At a slightly later date, Robert Kynnaird, the king's surgeon, received 
£20 annually, which was paid half by the treasurer and half by the comptroller, 
and John Murray, the king's barber (barbitonsor) received £10. 1 

Other surgeons of the reigns of James IV. and James V. were the following : 
Thomas Leich received a fee paid from rents in the Island of Bute for a number 
of years, and, in 1496, by grace of the king, received an extra fee of one chalder 
of barley (in modern weight one ton). 2 William Maw received £10 from the lands 
of Thomestone. 3 Dr. Arbuthnot was a physician to James V., who, in addition 
to a salary for himself, received an allowance for his horses. 4 George Leich had 
a grant for life from the lands of Kyltier and Artulloch up to 1555. 5 Master 
Duncan May, surgeon, had a fee of £40. 6 Fergus Aldowy, physician, and Nigel 
McMorquhar, physician, also had grants from James V. 7 James Watson was 
a surgeon to James V., who received a salary of £20 from 1538 to 1542. 8 

For diseases requiring great skill, it appears that resort was made at this 
time to Paris. Thus Patrick Panther, the king's secretary, went there when ill 
and died of fever ; and Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross, went to Paris for a 
surgical operation. 9 The fee paid to a Scottish surgeon on one occasion is 
mentioned as 32 shillings. 10 

1 " Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. XIV., pp. 81, 466 and 467. 

- Op. cit., Vol. X., pp. 549 and 550 etc. 

3 Op. cit., p. 202. 

4 Op. cit., Vol. XV., p. 389. 

5 Op. cit., p. 13, etc. 

0 Op. cit., p. 141, etc. 

' Op. cit., Vol. XVII., pp. 555 and 549. 

* Op. cit., p. 59, etc. 

• Op. cit., Vol. XIV., Pref. p. cxvi. 
1 ° Op. cit., p 362. 



Sir David Lyndsay, of the Mount, in the reign of James V., has an amusing 
poem regarding a jousting between James Watson and Jhone Barbour, servitouris 
to King James V., which is said to have taken place before the king and queen, 
at St. Andrews, on a Whit Monday. It is possible that professional rivalry 
may have induced these two representatives of the medical profession of the day 
to engage in combat before the court. In any case, Lyndsay turns their strife into 
a ridiculous affair : — 

The ane of thame was gentill James Watsoun, 
And Jhone Barbour, the uther campioun ; 
Unto the King thay wer familiaris, 
And of his chalmer boith cubicularis : 
James was ane man of greit intelligence, 
Ane medicinar fid of experience ; 
And Jhone Barbour, he was ane nobill leche, 
Crukit carlingis, he wald gar thame get speche. 

From tyme thay enterit war into the feild, 
Full womanlie thay weildit speir and scheild, 
And wichtlie waiffit in the wynd thair heillis, 
Hobland lyke cadgeris rydand on thair creillis ; 
But ather ran at uther with sic haist, 
That they could never thair speir get in the reist ; 
Ouhen gentill James trowit best with Jhone to meit, 
His speir did fald among his horsis feit . 
I am richt sure, gude James had bene undone, 
War nocht that Jhone his marke tuke be the Mone." 

At the first onslaught with lances, James would have been struck down if John 
through fierceness had not happened to faint, and, at the same time, John would 
have suffered severely had not James unfortunately broken his lance among the 
horses' feet. After the unsuccessful charge with lances, they drew their 
swords, but each missed his blow at the other, and thereafter they took to 
boxing-gloves and " dang at utheris facis." Finally, they gave up for 
weariness without shedding blood. Perhaps in this poem a sly reference 
may be traced to John Watson, who was one of the royal surgeons, and 
Thomas Leiche, a well-known surgeon of the time. 1 

The surgeons and barbers of Edinburgh had come into prominence in the Surgeons of 
year 1505, when, along with various other Guilds, they were incorporated under Edmbur g h 
the Seal of Cause from the Town Council, ratified next year by the king. During 
the following century there are numerous references in the Town Council minutes 
and other Scottish records to their activities. That the surgeons and barbers 
were enterprising and patriotic is evidenced by the fact that when an English 
invasion was threatened in 1558, and the crafts of the burgh were convened 
in the Tolbooth to provide volunteers for the protection of the town against 
"our auld inemyes of Ingland," 27 members of the Guild of Surgeons and 
Barbers volunteered for this duty as part of a force of 717 men provided by 
the various crafts. 

on royal 

1 "Sir David Lyndsay's Works": Edit, by Laing, Edinburgh, 1879, Vol. I, p. 125- 

Iron Hand of Clephane 
(Reproduced by courtesy of the Rt. Hon. the Marquess of Northampton) 


Mm I 

Their names were as follows : " Jhone Wawchthet, and Edward Wawghthet, Military 
his servand (i.e., apprentice) ; David Robertsoun, and Thomas Kawpe, servand ; sur 8 eons 
Jhone Weddel ; Patrick Mertene ; Alexander Bruce ; Jhone Libertoun ; Robert 
Henrysoun, Andro Wyntoun and Gilbert Prymros, his servandis ; Nowye Bruschet, 
and Thomas Boyes, his servand ; James Lindesay ; Archibald Maw, and Jhone 
Scot, servand ; Alexander Percy, Thomas Blak, his servand ; Niniane Maw, Jhone 
Chalmer, his servand ; George Campbell ; Maister Annie, William Gray, his 
servand ; Maister Babteist, Jhone Pectarne, his servand ; Pate Hardye, Walter 
Hardye, his sone." 1 

There is a note in the Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, under the 
date 1542, for disbursements to Anthone Brisset, on account of services to 
Queen Mary of Guise, and to four surgeons who had apparently taken part 
in military operations on the borders in that year. This is the first reference 
to military surgeons in Scotland : — 

Item, gevin to Anthone Brisset, Surrurgeane, for laubouris done be him to ye Quenis 
grace, at this tyme alanerly xx li. 

Item, to George Leche, William Quhite, George Fothringham and Dauid Robertsoune, 
Surrurgeanis, passand to ye Bordouris for curing of all personis yat hapnit to be hurt 
be Inglis menne xij li. ! 

The family of Clephane of Carslogie, near Cupar, possessed an iron hand iron Hand 
without a thumb, the lingers of which move at the knuckles. It is attached of Clephane 
to three flat bars, which were fastened by means of a hoop to the arm just 
below the elbow. Tradition says that it belonged to a laird of Carslogie, 
who received it from a king of Scotland, in consequence of having lost his 
hand in the service of his country. It is apparently an example of the work 
of a 1 6th century Scottish armourer. 

In 1557, John Wauchlott, who is described as officer and chirurgeane, 
received £3 for curing the leg of James Henderson, injured in a fight with a 
thief. It appears, therefore, that Wauchlott must have been in the service of 
the magistracy. 3 In 1563, Robert Hendersoun, cherurgeane, appears to have 
been in the service of the town, because a minute of the Council speaks of his 
great labours and expenses at their command on divers persons hurt within the 
town. Hendersoun's most notable exploit was said to have been the raising 
of a dead woman from the grave, when she had lain there two days after having 
been strangled. He had also dressed the stumps of two false notaries whose 
hands had been struck off, and he had successfully treated a man and a woman 
wounded through the body by the sword of a Frenchman. For these surgical 
exploits he was voted the sum of 20 merks. 4 

1 Gairdner : "List of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 1581-1873." Edinburgh, 1874, 
pp. 3 and 4. 

' Pitcairn : " Criminal Trials in Scotland," Vol. I., Part I., p. 325. 

3 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1557-1571," p. 16. 

' Op. cit., pp. 165 and i6fi. 


The monopoly granted to the surgeons and barbers of making aqua vitae seems 
to have been gradually abandoned by them. On 20th March, 1557, Besse Campbell 
was ordered to " desist and ceis fra ony forther making of aquevite within this 
burgh in tyme cummyng," or from selling it except on the market day, " conform 
to the priuilege grantit to the barbouris vnder the seill of caus, without scho 
be admittit be tham thairto." It would seem, from the latter part of this 
judgment, as though the surgeons and barbers had been in the habit of leasing 
or granting to persons outside the craft the privilege of making and selling 
aqua vitae. The complete abandonment of the privilege was therefore 
probably effected gradually. 1 

Exemptions Mary, Queen of Scots, some two months before her abdication, in 1567, granted 

to surgeons an important concession to the surgeons by which they were to be exempted from 

bearing arms and sitting upon Assizes, so that they might be the more able at all 

times to devote their services to the succour of the lieges. 

Letter under the Privy Seal exempting Surgeons from Bearing Armour or 

Passing in Battle, etc. 

iith May, 1567. 

Ane Lettre maid makand mentioun That oure Souerane Lady Vnderstanding be suir 
informatioun That the chyrurgianis of all realmis ar for the weill of the legis of the 
samin exemit fra bering of armour or passing in battell in all weiris wappinschawingis raidis 
gadderingis assembleis and armeis And als fra all passing vpoun assyissis or inqueistis 
in actionis criminall or ciuile except safar as appertenis to the jugement of thair awin craft 
To the effect that thai may be reddy to serve the remanent liegis with thair occupatioun 
as tyme sail require And hir hienes considering That cunnyng men of the occupatioun and 
craft of chyrurgianrie ar als necessar to be within this realme as in vthir pairtis And willing 
to gratifie the chyrurgianis duelland within the burrowis of this realme And to gif thame 
and vthiris thair posteritie of thair occupatioun the gretar occasioun to studie the perfectioun 
of the said craft and occupatioun to the vttermest of thair ingynis Thairfore and for diuers | 
vthiris ressonabill caussis and considerationis moving hir grace Gevand and grantand 
licence To all and sindrie chyrurgianis inhabitantis of burrowis of this realme now present j 
and thair posteritie being for the tyme chirurgianis quhilk are habill and qualifijt personis | 
and eftir examinatioun before the Dekin and brethir of that occupatioun within the burgh 
of Edinburght and of a Doctour of Medicine gif he may be present salbe fundin abill and I 
qualifijt to vse and exerce the said craft and no vthiris That thai sail nocht beir armour 
nor pas in battell in ony oistis raidis gadderingis assembleis wappinschawingis or weiris 
to be maid be hir grace or hir successouris thair lieutennentis or wairdanis be burght sey 
or land within this hir hienes realme or outwith the samyn And alswa fra all compeirance 
and passing vpoun ony inqueistis or assyissis in actionis criminall or ciuile in iustice airis 
iustice courtis schiref courtis burrow courtis or vtheris for serving of brevis apprising of 
landis or ony vthir maner of actionis quhatsumeuir Except safar as concernis the ingeniens 
and sicht of thair said craft allanerlie Exemand and Dischargeand thame thairfra in tyme 
cuming And will and grantis that the chirurgianis now present and thair posteritie of that 
occupatioun nor nane of thame salbe callit nor accusit thairfore etc. Providing alwayis 
That thai beir chairgis in payment of stent within burght as nychtbouris dois in all tyme 
cuming And als that thai be present with armyis reddie to do hair cuir and dewitie to all 
sic personis as salhaue mister thairof etc. At Edinburght the xj day of Maij the zeir of 
God jmv<" lxvij zeiris. 

Per Signaturam. 2 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1528-1557," p. 262. 
' Registrum Secreti Sigilli, XXVI., p. 47. 

Wrtff pW&ivht- ft+Htf^W^H-VtH*- <t»itlTttKWli<? <jt»Cl^nv fUfttTcmS /pfclfi^ijf- 


\^*«f«\M* ^Wtf §«W fp9 

Letter of Mary, Queen of Scots 
dated 11th May, 1567, granting privileges to surgeons 
(Original in H.M. Register House, Edinburgh) 

T 7 2 


Medico-legal There are various records of surgeons being consulted in medico-legal 

certificates cases > ar >d furnishing reports to the Town Council or to the judges. The 

following is a good example of the form taken by a medico-legal report, 

dated 27th June, 1569 : — 

" Comperit alswa in jugement, in presence of the said Justice-depute, Nowye 
Buyssat, dekyn of Scherurgianis, and producit this writting following, quhilk bayth the 
parteis foirsaidis desyrit to be insert and registrat in the buikis of Adiornale ; quhairof 
the tennour followis : — 

Testimonial of the Cherurgianis 

"Apud Edinburt. xxvij 3 . die mensis Junij, Anno Domini millesimo quingentesimo 
sexagesimo nono. The quhilk day, at sindry tymes befoir, at ye queist and desyre of 
my Lord Justice Clerk, wes presentit befoir me Nowye Buyssatt dekyn, Robert Henrysoune, 
Patrik Hardy, and Alex. Tuedye, cherurgeanis and burgessis of Edinburgh, my breder, 
ane callit Johnne Farer, quha wes hurte vpoun the left arme, on the elbok, on the arme 
beneth, and on the hand ; to have our jugementis, quhidder that the said Johnne suld be 
mutulat or no of the saidis hurtis and woundis than being haill : Eftir lang consultatioune 
and ernist advysement, we fand the said Johnne nather to be mutulat nor impotent of 
his arme nor hand ; bot that it wald be daylie better, gif he wald make laubouris vpoune 
it : And this we testefie be this our hand wrytis and subscriptioune to all and sindry 
to quhome it efferis, day, zeir and place foirsaidis. 

" Nowy Byssat, Dekin of the Cherurgeanis. 
Robert Henrysoune, wt. my hand. 
Alex. Tuedy, wt. my hand. 
Patk. Hardy, wt. my hand." 1 

By 1563, the surgeons and barbers seem to have been taking means to stop 
unauthorised people from practising their craft, for in this year the Provost and 
Council forbade four men and a woman to indulge in " occupeing or vsing of 
cherurgeanrie or barbour craft " until they should be admitted and made free 
of the craft. 2 

Expert In addition to furnishing certificates to the courts, the surgeons were some- 

witnesses times called before the Town Council to give evidence, as in March, 1580, when 
Jhone Lowsoun, chirurgean, appeared before the Provost and Baillies, and, being 
sworn, gave evidence that Nicoll Haistie, cordiner, was in no danger of his life 
from a wound given him by Thomas Crawfurd, who therefore was set at liberty 
upon caution. 3 

At the same court, seven surgeons appeared, viz., Robert Henrysoun, 
Howie Brussat, Henry Blyth, Gilbert Primrose, James Lyndsay, James Craig 
and Henry Lumisdaill, who gave evidence that they had on various occasions 
examined Robert Asbowane, who had been wounded one week before by 

1 Pitcairn: "Criminal Trials in Scotland," Vol. I., Part II., p. 7. 

2 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, I557-I57I," P- 155- 

3 Op. cit., I573" I 589. P 152. 



James Douglas, with his servants and accomplices. As they testified that 
the said Robert Asbowane was in no danger of his life or of mutilation, 
the prisoners were set at liberty with a fine of 5000 merks. Four of 
these surgeons had already appeared two days previously and reported 
that " they as yit culd geve na resolute ansuer towart the hurting of 
Robert Asbowane be James Douglas and his complices, bot that he is in 
danger quhill forther tryell." 1 

It may be assumed, therefore, that Gilbert Primrose, James Lyndsay and 
James Craig were regarded as persons of greater weight in the profession, seeing 
that they enabled the other four within two days to come to a definite decision 
in this serious case. All three were later Deacons of the craft. 

In the same year, Henry Lumisdaill is noted as having given a certificate 
that a servant to the Earl of Argyle was in no danger from a wound 
given him by Jhone Small, who was therefore set at liberty. 2 In 1581, 
the same three seniors, Gilbert Primrose, James Craig and James Lyndsay, 
gave evidence that they had examined the wound of Howsteane Braikinrig, 
a butterman, who had been wounded by Rychert Miller, and, as they declared 
that Braikinrig was in no danger of his life, Miller was set free. 3 Similarly, in 
1583, Lyndsay, Lumisdaill, Blyth and Craig certified that James Marioribankis 
was in no danger to life from a wound in the hand and arm given him by 
William Blythman, flesher, and his accomplices, and cautiously added " bot gif 
he was mutilat culd nocht swa suddanelie declair the sam." 4 

Robert Henrysoun has been mentioned as having been employed several 
times by the town in medico-legal cases. In June, 1580, a supplication was 
made on the part of Thomas Morame, town's officer, who had been hurt in the 
execution of his office " be sum wikket persounis as yitt vnknawin," 
because his surgeons, doubting of payment, " ar become slak in thair cure." 
He had been thrust through the body and was troubled with inward 
bleeding. The Baillies and Council therefore ordained their treasurer to pay 
Robert Henrysoun and James Lyndsay, chirurgeanes, 20 pounds for Morame's 
cure, and to pay Adame Diksoun, apothecare, the sum of 50 shillings for 
the drugs supplied by him. 5 

The surgeons and barbers frequently had to contend with persons invading invasions of^ 
their craft, and, in 1575, the Provost and Baillies had issued a decree forbidding ^^teges™ 8 
apothecaries and others who did not belong to the Surgeons' Guild to exercise a 
part of their craft. This had been duly intimated by the bellman of the burgh 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, i573' 8 9." P- '53- 
' Op. cit. , p. 162. 
3 Op. cit., pp. 218 and 219. 
1 Op. cit., pp. 286 and 287. 
s Op. cit., pp. 165 and 166. 








to Alexander Barclay and Robert Craig, apothecaries, and others. On 
12th April, 1587, the Deacon of the surgeons' craft, James Craig, complained to the 
Town Council that Archbald Mwdie, an apothecary, had been practising surgery, 
and in particular he had been " curing and pansing of Mathow Weiche of ane 
vlcer in his fute " for three weeks past, and daily and hourly applying thereto 
various local remedies. For this, Archbald Mwdie was fined 40 shillings 
and forbidden in future to exercise any point of the craft of surgery, under the 
pain of a similar fine. 1 On 27th June, 1589, however, Baillie Thomas Fyschear, 
who was not a surgeon, received 20 shillings from the Council for " mending 
ane Spayngyart's heid." 2 In the case of a Baillie, the Surgeons' Guild probably 
thought it better not to prosecute. 

It must have been somewhat of a blow to the surgeons in Edinburgh when, 
on 5th February, 1589, Phillop Hislop, one of the regents of the Town's College, 
who suffered from a malady of the eye and feared he was to lose it, obtained 
leave of absence from the Town Council to proceed to London, where he was 
"in howpe to be curet thairof." 3 

A distinguished surgeon of this period was John Chisholm, doctor of medicine, 
and surgeon to King James VI., who is believed to have been the operator who 
preserved the life of the Earl of Morton when 
he was suffering from strangulated hernia, 
although the Earl was beheaded nine years 
later, the first victim of " The Maiden," an 
instrument which he had invented : "November, 
1572, James, erle of Mortoun, regent, lay deidle 
seik of rumburssanes (rupture) and war nocht 
he was cuttit he haid lost the lyff ." 4 

The most noteworthy of the surgeons about 
this time was Gilbert Primrose, who served 
an apprenticeship to Robert Henrysoun and 
accompanied him in the military expedition 
of 1558. He was Deacon of the Incorporation 
in 1581-82 and again in 1602, and, during 
his earlier occupancy of the chair, the craft 
attained the premier position among the 
Edinburgh trade guilds. He was a friend of 

Peter Lowe, founder of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow, who 
dedicated his treatise on Chirurgery to Gilbert Primrose and to James Harvie, 
another Edinburgh surgeon who had been an apprentice to Primrose and 
afterwards became chief surgeon to the queen. Primrose became sergeant-surgeon 
to King James VI., accompanied the court to London and died at Westminster 


(Original in Museum of Royal College of Surgeons, 
Edinburgh J 

1 "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589," pp. 489 and 490. 

' Op. cit., p. 546. 

3 Op. cit., p. 536. 

' " Diurnal of Occurrents," p. 321. 





on 8th April, 1616. He was interred in Greyfriars' Churchyard at Edinburgh, 
where his tombstone bore a Latin epitaph to the following effect : — 

" To Gilbert Primrose, chief chirurgeon to James and Anne, king and queen of Great 
Britain, France and Ireland, his heirs erected this monument. He lived happily 80 years. 
To the end of his life he was chief chirurgeon to the king, and died adorned with testimonies 
of public sorrow, from 
prince and people, in the 
year of our Lord 1616, 
the 8 day of April. 

" Thus he died full of 
years and honour. While 
I lived I willed ; my will, 
Christ, was Thine ; so 
neither life nor death 
was bitter to me." 

Another surgeon 
deserving mention is 
John Naysmyth, surgeon 
to King James VI. He 
was the younger son of 
Michael Nassmyth, Cham- 
berlain to John Hamilton, 
Archbishop of St. An- 
drews, and Elizabeth, 
daughter of John Baird 
of Posso. John Nay- 
smyth appears to have 
received his early educa- 
tion at St. Mary's College, 
St. Andrews, and he 
served an apprenticeship 
to Gilbert Primrose. He 
rendered an important 
service to the imprisoned 
Mary Queen of Scots, for, 
in !575> ne went to 
England as a member of 
the retinue of Lord Seton, 
ostensibly on an embassy 
to Queen Elizabeth, but 
in reality entrusted with 

the perilous task of delivering to Queen Mary certain letters from the Regent. 
These were successfully delivered, but were discovered shortly afterwards, a fact 
which necessitated the speedy return of Naysmyth to Scotland. Partly, no doubt, 
through his exploit, he rose to high favour with King James VI. 

Member of the Scots Guards of the King of 
France in the time of John Naysmyth 
(After Forbes ■ Leilh ) 



For a time, however, his fortunes declined, as he was involved in the plot Surgeon to 
against the king originated by Francis, Earl of Bothwell, and the king, who was f n C p r S a Guards 
incensed against him, was only kept from hanging him by the intercession of his 
queen, Anne of Denmark, who apparently had a great liking for the young surgeon. 
Naysmyth retired to France for some years, and there became chief surgeon to the 
Scots Guards of the King of France. 1 

In 1599, he returned to Scotland and was speedily restored to the royal favour. 
Indeed, he was a companion of King James on the hunt at Falkland when James 
was enticed to Gowrie House in 1600. 2 On 26th March, 1600, he married Helen 
MacMath, daughter of one of the most opulent Edinburgh citizens of that time, 
and on the removal of the court to London in 1603, Naysmyth accompanied the 
king, and was made Royal Herbalist for life. He died in London on 16th September, 
1613, in the 57th year of his age and, by his own wish, his body was removed to 
Edinburgh and interred in Greyfriars Churchyard, where a handsome monument 
still marks his resting-place. A Latin inscription, which is now almost completely 
obliterated, but which has been translated, runs as follows : — 3 

" Here lies John Nasmyth, of the family of Posso, an honourable family of Tweeddale, 
a citizen of Edinburgh, chief surgeon to his most Serene Majesty, and to the King of 
France's troop of guards from Scotland — having excellently performed all the duties of 
a godly life ; who dying at London, to the grief of both nations, in the exercise of office 
with his Majesty, ordered his body to be conveyed hither (such was his love to his country), 
to be buried in this dormitory ; acquitting himself to his King, his country, and his friends 
to the utmost of his power and duty. He died in the 57th year of his age, the 16th September, 
161 3. Why is it grievous to return whence you came ? " 

The first specialist in surgery at Edinburgh of whom there is a record was Surgical 
apparently trained in France, for, in 1595, the surgeons complained against s P eciallst 
M. Awin, a French surgeon, for practising the art of surgery in Edinburgh 
without belonging to the Guild. The Town Council fined him 20 pounds 
and forbade him under pain of imprisonment to practise surgery except 
certain special branches, viz., cutting for the stone, curing of ruptures, 
couching of cataracts, curing the pestilence, and distempers of women occasioned 
by childbirth. 4 

James Henrysoun (a younger contemporary of Robert Henrysoun), who had Town 
been busy as a kind of medical officer of health during the epidemics of plague, office* 1 
was apparently employed by the Town Council, after the disappearance of the 
plague, as a regular officer to treat the poor of the town, for, in 1589, there is a 
minute that he is to be paid the " sowm of nyne pund fourty penneis, in compleitt 
payment of all drogs, implasteris and mendicaments furnist be him in curing of 

1 Forties- Loith : " The Scots Men-at-Arms in France," Edinburgh, 1882, Vol. II., p. 187. 

* See " List of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 1581-1873," Edinburgh, 1874, p. 6. 

3 Forbcs-Loith : " The Scots Men at-Arms in France," Edinburgh, 1882, Vol. II, p. 187. 

4 Maitland : " History of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1753, pp. 46 and 47. Also " Extracts from the Records of the 

liurgh of Edinburgh, 1589-1603," p. 136. 


Looking from the Cowgate, with the House of the Archbishop of St. Andrews on the right 
(From a luatcr-colour sketch by Sir Daniel Wilson, in Edinburgh University Library) 


i 79 

the pure in tymes past, at the townis command, conform to the particulare compt 
thairof presently schawin." 1 

In addition to the surgeons and barbers, numerous apothecaries, some of Physicians 
whom kept shops for the sale of spices and for prescribing and carrying out medicinal 
treatment, were to be found in the town. There were also physicians, who had 
probably been trained abroad or had even received degrees at foreign universities, 
among whom one of the most noteworthy was Gilbert Skeen, who had been 
mediciner in King's College, Aberdeen, and who set up practice in Niddrie Wynd, 
Edinburgh, in the year 1575. Another physician practising at the same time 
was William Cassanate, a Spanish physician, who had been trained at 
Besancon, in Burgundy, and who is mentioned as the physician of the 
Archbishop of St. Andrews. 

In the year 1551, Cassanate was settled in practice in Edinburgh. He was Case of 
then 36 years old and had been attached for four years to the household of jo£ n ° P 
John Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrews. 2 His patron, the Archbishop, Hamilton 
was a prominent actor in some of the most im- 
portant scenes connected with the troubled political 
history surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary was 
at this time nine years old. The Archbishop's 
brother, James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, was next 
heir to the throne and Regent of Scotland. The 
Earl of Arran had succeeded in getting the 
Scottish Parliament to agree to a Treaty with 
England, arranged in 1543, by which Mary should 
be married to Edward, the son of Henry VIII., 
when she was eleven years old. 

The Scottish barons, however, had declared 
against this alliance with England, and, as a result 
of the contention of these two parties, the south of 
Scotland had been virtually destroyed, in two in- 
vasions of 1544 and 1547, by the Earl of Hertford. 
The party in favour of an alliance with England 
was headed by the Earl of Arran, backed by his 
brother, Archbishop Hamilton, while the party in favour of an alliance with 
France was headed by the Queen-Mother, Mary of Lorraine, backed by 
Cardinal Beaton. 

In addition to his own ecclesiastical affairs, John Hamilton practically His asthma 
had to manage all that was difficult in the affairs of Scotland from about health 11 " 8 
1546, when Cardinal Beaton was put to death. He speaks of himself 
indeed as being too busy almost to breathe, his health failed from month 
to month, and at the end of the year 1551, after he had finished his 

Seal of John Hamilton 

1 "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589." P- 535- 
■ See Morley : " Life of Jerome Cardan," London, 1854, Vol. 1 1., Chaps. IV. and V. 



His physi- 
cian writes 
to Cardan 

celebrated " Catechism," attacks of asthma, which recurred every eight days 
and lasted for 24 hours, had made him very thin and brought him 
nearly to the point of death. Looking around for medical advice, he was 
counselled by his physician, Cassanate, to seek the help of Jerome Cardan, the 
famous physician of Milan. 

In the end of November, 1551, Cardan received a letter written from 
Edinburgh two months earlier by Cassanate. As this letter contained matters 
of great importance, and as it had to be sent across Europe by the hands of a 
special messenger, and was addressed from one dignified physician to another, 
Cassanate apparently thought that the occasion warranted a very lengthy literary 
effort. The letter, as printed in Cardan's works, extends over some sixteen 
folio pages. 1 It began with a general disquisition on the subject of the forma- 
tion of friendship, quoting the opinions of Cicero and other writers on the matter. 
Then followed complimentary references to Cardan's books, especially the books 
on " Subtilty," which Cassanate had only lately read. Finally, he came to the 
case of the Archbishop of St. Andrews, 
which is interesting as giving an idea of 
theories of pathology in the 16th century. 

The Archbishop, he said, had been 
troubled for ten years with periodic asthma 
caused by a distillation from the brain into 
the lungs and associated at first with hoarse- 
ness, which had been removed, leaving a 
bad temperature in the brain. The brain, 
he continued, was too cold and moist, being 
nourished with pituitous blood. Whenever 
the brain became invaded with this matter 
there was a fresh accession of the asthma 
due to a flow of the same humour down into 
the lungs — an accession which agreed almost 
accurately with the conjunctions and opposi- 
tions of the moon. 

He offered the opinion that the matter flowing down into the lungs was serous, 
watery and sweet or insipid, for if it were acrid or salt the lungs would ulcerate 
and the disease would turn to phthisis. Thin at first, the fluid was expelled by 
coughing, but part becoming thick, adhered to the lungs, and the consequence was 
dyspnoea with stertor. Various physical signs, such as the heat of the breath, 
the character of the pulse, etc., were also given. Cassanate then proceeded 
that the Archbishop was about to visit Paris and begged Cardan to make an 
appointment with him in that city, so that they might have the benefit of a 
consultation. If Cardan could not come to Paris, he might at least travel to 
Lyons, where the Archbishop would come to meet him. 

Jerome Cardan 

(From Frontispiece of his " De Subtilitatc, 
edition of 1554,) 

1 Cardan : " De Libris I'ropriis," 1557. PP- I 59~ 1 75- 


To this letter, dated 28th September, 1551, Cardan replied that he 
would go to Paris. On 23rd February, 1552, Cardan set out for Lyons, 
where he arrived in about three weeks. Here he was met by Cassanate, 
bearing a letter of introduction from the Archbishop, written in Latin, 
speaking of serious, urgent and inevitable business which had detained the 
Archbishop at home, and extending to Cardan an urgent invitation to come to 
Edinburgh. The letter is brief, business-like and so skilful a combination of 
compliments, with an obvious anxiety on the Archbishop's part to see Cardan, 
that it appears almost irresistible. The Archbishop concluded with the 
words : " Farewell, most learned Cardanus, and visit our Lares to rind us not 
so much of Scythians as you perhaps suppose. — Edinburgh, Feb. 4, 1552." 
Accompanying the letter were 300 gold crowns as travelling expenses between 
Lyons and Edinburgh. 

The two physicians accordingly set out. In Paris, Cardan met with The physi- 
the heartiest reception, and saw many noble patients. He and Cassanate « a ns consult 
dined with two celebrated physicians of the French king, Jean Fernel, 
first physician to the French king, and Jacques de la Boe (Sylvius), the 
Parisian professor of anatomy, in order to discuss the Archbishop's case. Cardan 
took great pains not to commit himself. During the discussion, he listened and 
said nothing, and, when asked for his opinion, declined to speak before the king's 
physicians had done so. Afterwards he abstained from committing himself, 
because he had not yet seen the case. 

Cardan and Cassanate then proceeded to London, and, after resting They arrive 
th ill- days, continued their way to Edinburgh, a journey of 23 days from a t Edinburgh 
London. On 29th June, 1552, Cardan personally interviewed his Scottish patient, 
wlio resided on the east side of Blackfriars Wynd, at the corner of the Cowgate. 1 
There had been plenty of time on the journey to discuss the case. At the Paris 
dinner-party, Cassanate's opinion in tracing the Archbishop's trouble to a cold 
brain had been accepted, and it had been recommended that the former treatment 
should be continued for 40 days. Cardan, however, traced all the evil to a 
hot brain, and differed with courtesy from his friends in other essential respects. 

At the end of 40 days the Archbishop became impatient. He had con- 
tinued to waste in body and had become restless and dissatisfied. Cardan 
then pointed out that he himself had formed another opinion as to the nature of 
the disease and as to the proper way of attempting its cure. The natural result 
was that the Archbishop was indignant with Cassanate and Cassanate with 
Cardan, but Cardan at all events was in the favourable position that any change 
he made would likely be for the better. 

Tradition says that the treatment of the Archbishop was carried out at his Treatment^ 
favourite country seat of Monimail. Monimail was a mensal benefice of the 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, situated some 13 miles from this town. It had 
been for generations a favourite country resort of the Bishops and Archbishops 


1 Maitland : " History of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, I753i P- l8 -- 



of St. Andrews. Archbishop Schevez had built the choir of the church, and 
Archbishop James Beaton had built a square tower of residence surrounded by 
gardens which were stocked with fruit trees from France. To this pleasant spot 
Archbishop Hamilton betook himself for the cure, and a spring about a mile from 
the residence is still known as Cardan's Well, from which the water of the cure is 
said to have been taken. 

In this charming place, lying on the southward slopes of the fertile Howe of 
Fife, John Hamilton had surrounded himself with well-to-do retainers, settled in 
the neighbouring village of Letham, to whom he had made grants of parcels of 
land and who carried on the prosperous trades of miller, brewer, blacksmith, etc., 
in the little settlement. 

Cardan now wrote out his whole opinion for the Archbishop at great Cardan's 
length. This is included in a volume of professional opinions subsequently °P mion 
published. 1 Cardan had already discovered that the Archbishop's asthmatic 
attacks, when he took care of himself, did not occur oftener than every 
15 or 20 days, that he never took the amount of sleep necessary, that he 
was a great eater and drinker, that he was irascible, had a skin that exhaled 
freely, and had become thin. 

After his 40 days' study of the patient, Cardan's written opinion took the 
form of a long clinical lecture. He did not believe with Cassanate that the 
matter finally expectorated had collected in His Grace's brain during the intervals 
between attacks, for if so, the operation of the intellect must have been impeded 
and the matter so collecting would have turned corrupt. He believed that the 
thin fluid expectorated was partly serous humour, partly condensed vapour, which 
descended from the brain into the lungs, not through the cavity of the windpipe, 
but through its coats, as water soaks through linen. This thin humour he supposed 
had been drawn into the brain by the increased rarity of that organ caused by 
undue heat, for heat made all things rare, and rarefaction in one part of the body, 
to express the idea roughly, produced suction from another. The expectorated 
matter, Cardan thought, was formed from the food. 2 

As a practical application of his theories, Cardan said that the basis of the Purgation 
Archbishop's cure must depend on the use of a food as cold-natured and humid 
as possible. The cold-natured food would resist the attraction of the brain, and 
humidity would obstruct the soaking down of matter from the brain through the 
coats of the windpipe, thus compelling it to descend by the interior of the channel, 
from which it could easily be coughed out. The chief attack by medicine was 
to be made on the unhealthy temperature of the brain, and with this view the 
head should be purged, with, of course, previous purgation of the body. 
Purgation of the head, he explained, might be effected through the palate, 
the nose or the sutures of the skull. For procuring a good discharge by the 
nose he recommended the following prescription : Of milk of a goat or cow, 

1 Cardan : " Consilia Mcdica," Vol. IX., 52nd opinion, pp. 124-148. 

3 Cardan reasoned upon principles laid down by Galen. They seem to us now very absurd, but not more absurd 
perhaps than some physiological theories of 1931 will appear to the medical philosophers of 2000 A.D. 


sleep and 

half a pint, of water half a pint, of elaterium two grains ; let this be drawn 
through the nostrils, when the patient has an empty stomach. 1 

For further purgation of the head, he recommended the application to the 
shaven head over the coronal suture of an ointment composed of Greek pitch, 
ship's tar, white mustard, euphorbium and honey of anathardus, sharpened, 
if desired, by the addition of cantharides. This ointment, he said, would 
sometimes fetch out two pints of water in 24 hours, although sometimes only 
three or four ounces. 2 

The bath He advised also the use of the shower bath as recommended by Celsus. In 

a well-warmed bedroom, the head was to be washed with hot water containing 
a few ashes. Then a pailful of water, cold from the well, was to be dashed upon 
it suddenly, after which the head was to be rubbed with cool, dry cloths until 
no trace of moisture remained. The patient was to remain in the warm room 
for two hours before going out. By this habit, said Cardan, the brain is kept in 
a natural temperature and its substance rendered firm and dense. He also 
strongly advised the use of the bath. 

He then came to what was perhaps the most important part of the physician's 
care — to prevent the generation in the body of peccant material. His Grace 
should walk in the shade in tranquil weather, and should be careful not to go out 
in rain or night air. He should make use of a perfume ball, but the perfume 
should not include roses, for the scent of roses made some brains warmer. The 
Archbishop should not sleep upon feathers but upon unspun silk, for the heating 
of the spine and vena cava upon a feather bed would cause matter to ascend into 
the head. The patient, too, should lie upon his face or side and, as a relief to the 
digestion, should press the hand upon the stomach. The pillow should be of dry 
straw finely chopped or, if His Grace preferred it, might be stuffed with dried 
seaweed, but not with feathers. The pillow-case also should be of linen and not 
of leather, and it should be sprinkled at night with a drying perfume. 3 The sleep 
must last for seven to ten hours, and the Archbishop must take the time from 
business or from his studies. His hours of business were to be limited to four, 
and might be from noon to four in the afternoon. 
Diet Upon rising, constipation might be corrected by taking a conserve of peaches 

and sugar of violets, waiting five hours for breakfast and then breakfasting lightly. 
Breakfast might be replaced by drinking two to four pints of new ass's milk, 
either in one dose or in several doses. This would serve to nourish his body 
and his lungs, allay the excess of heat, be grateful to the palate and help to avert 
consumption. Special directions were also given for the feeding of the ass which 
was to supply the milk. 

His Grace, on rising, ought to comb his hair with an ivory comb, by which the 
brain was comforted, to rub his limbs, anoint his spine and chest with oil of sweet 

1 Presumably the patient took only a small part of the pint of fluid at a time ; otherwise, the purgative effects of two 

grains of elaterium would have been memorable. 

2 This warm nightcap would effectually preveut the Archbishop from any desire for the pleasures of the table for 

several days. 

3 The prohibition of feathers and leather is interesting, in view of the modern theory regarding the causation of some 

cases of asthma by proteins coming from animal materials. 


almonds, and, after dressing, to walk for a short time in some pleasant spot out 
of the sun. Cardan apparently restricted the meals to two in the day, and, 
discussing whether breakfast or supper should be the chief meal, decided that 
in every man's case an established custom ought not to be broken. He then 
gave a long series of minute directions upon food and cooking. He prescribed 
many articles of diet which would be specially suitable for the Archbishop, 
with the purpose of restoring his bodily weight. Chief on the list was 
tortoise or turtle soup. The whole animal except the shell was to be stewed 
down with water till it was as nearly as possible dissolved. The flesh was 
then to be eaten and the soup to be drunk, no other food or drink being 
used for about 20 days. 

Another thing which Cardan recommended as excellent was soup made from 
the blood of a young pig and coltsfoot leaves. Two ounces a day of this, taken 
with a little sugar, would fatten a man rapidly, and in Cardan's experience had 
been found able to bring back a hectic person from the gates of death. He also 
advised soup made of snails, and suggested that frogs might be employed in the 
kitchens of the Britons as they sometimes were in Italy. A soup, made of thick 
barley water with chicken broth, flavoured with wine and a little cinnamon or 
ginger, he also strongly recommended as an easily digested and fattening 
I article of diet. 

He added a great number of medical prescriptions to be used in various 
I emergencies, some of them taken from the chief authorities in medicine — Greek, 
Roman and Arabic — and closed the list with the recommendation of an issue under 
each knee, to be established, however, only as a last resort if other remedies 
I should fail. 

It is evident in all this that while Cardan followed the rules established by 
L authority, in his practical treatment of the case he really was guided by an 
experienced common sense. The check put upon the Archbishop's appetite, the 
limitation of his hours of business, the rest of 10 hours in the night on a suitable 
bed, the morning shower-bath, a strict fast enjoined during the period of an 
attack, and an infrequent though nutritious diet at other times, improved 
I the Archbishop's health quickly. Cardan remained in Edinburgh for 35 
[ days after his own treatment of the Archbishop had been begun. During 
j that time Scottish nobles flocked to him and paid liberally for his advice. 
From the grateful Archbishop he had already received 300 gold crowns for Cardan's fee 
travelling expenses, and had been promised 10 crowns a day during his stay 
in Edinburgh. His Grace now gave him 1400 crowns for himself and 400 for 
his live attendants, as well as a gold chain worth 125 crowns, and other gifts, 
e including a valuable horse. 

In return for all this liberality, Cardan at his departure handed to the Further 
Archbishop a document distinct from the long written opinion already mentioned, dlrectl0ns 
containing careful and elaborate directions for the patient's private use. 1 

1 Cardan: " Consilia Medica," included in Opera, Vol. IX, p. 225 el seq 

1 86 


This gave directions against all sorts of contingencies and was meant as a substitute 
for Cardan's own presence in Edinburgh. On his morning walk, the Archbishop 
was to chew a couple of tears of mastic gum to promote the benehcial flow of water 
from the mouth. 1 As he got better, he was to breakfast at nine o'clock, eating 
first the liver of a fowl with two or three grains of ginger, after that some bread 
soaked in gravy, and about two ounces of white wine, and afterwards he might 
eat at his discretion some chicken, roasted or stewed, and drink wine four or five 
times in the forenoon, but in all not more than ten ounces. The four hours after 
noon were to be the hours of business, during which, however, he was not to 
write letters with his own hand. At 
four o'clock he was to go out for an 
hour's ride on horseback, and, having 
returned, he might give audience to 
persons desiring to see him. Towards 
seven o'clock he was to take the second 
meal of the day. This should com- 
mence with a spoonful of pure honey> 
and an excellent supper might often 
be made of bread and goat's milk, as 
was done by a Cardinal whom Cardan 
knew in Milan. At eight or half-past 
eight, the Archbishop should retire to 
bed and should secure ten hours of 
continued sleep, which would make 
his hour of rising about 6 a.m. 

For securing punctuality in carry- 
ing out the system laid down, Cardan 
suggested to His Grace to purchase a 
good clock, for, he said, every Italian 
prince had many and good clocks. When they parted, Archbishop Hamilton 
promised to follow the regime for two years, and then to send a report of the result 
to Cardan at Milan. 

Cardan also considered it advisable to give his patient the following piece 
of counsel, which at the present day seems superfluous in the case of an 
Archbishop : — 

De Venere. Certe non est bona, neque utilis ; ubi tamen contingat necessitas, 
debet uti ea inter duos somnos, scilicet post mediam noctem, et melius est exercere 
earn ter in sex diebus pro exemplo, ita ut singulis duobus diebus semel, quam bis 
in una die, etiam quod staret per decern dies. 2 

The At the end of two years and one month, a Scotsman arrived in Milan, bearing 

Archbishop's i etter f rom t j ie Archbishop to Cardan. In the course of this, His Grace said : 
recovery r 

Horoscope of John Hamilton, Archbishop 
of St. Andrews 
made by Jerome Cardan 

1 This accords well with modern American fashion. 

2 Cardan: " Consilia Medica," Vol. IX, p. n5. 


I8 7 

" I thank you not only for your various and very welcome little gifts, but also 
for my health, that is in great part restored, for the almost complete subjugation 
of my disease, for strength regained ; in line, I may say, for life recovered. 
All those good things, and this body of mine itself, I hold as received from 
you . . . the accustomed attacks now scarcely occur once a month, and 
sometimes once in two months ; then, too, they are not urgent and pressing, 
as they used to be, but are felt very slightly." 

In the 16th century and for two centuries more, Dundee was the second town Dundee 
in Scotland, both in regard to population and wealth, having approximately 10,000 surgeons 
inhabitants. The town possessed at any one time some six or seven practitioners 
of the healing art, who were variously described as barber, chirurgeon or surgeon- 
surgeon-barber. Buist has collected a list of some 30 men who practised in this 
town during the course of the 16th century, and from incidental references 
to these in the Town Council Records, a good picture can be formed of the 
conditions under which they practised. Apprenticeship here as elsewhere was 
the method of entrance to the medical fraternity. The word apothecary does 
not appear in the Records until after the close of this century, and the first 
time that " doctor of medicine " is mentioned is in the case of David Kinloch 
I in 1591. 

There are many instances of an appeal by surgeons to the magistrates of 
Dundee for an order that fees should be paid, and the remuneration can be 
. gathered from several of these instances. For example, in 1568, Patrick Walker 
got a decree for 15s. for healing " a straik fower insche deipe (stroke four inches 
deep) in the flank of John Robertson, mariner " ; in 1584, William Gray, 
chirurgian, got " twa merks (13s. 4^.) for the healing of David Lawsone," who 
had been wounded in the shoulder with a quhinger ; in 1570, John Brown was 
ordained either to " cuir and heil the leges of Andro Fothringham," which he 
had begun four months previously, or to return to the said Andro the money 
that he had already received. 1 

During the course of the 16th century medical books became available in Medical 
printed form, the first printed in Scotland being Gilbert Skene's Pest, published jg+^entur 
in 1568. It contains, besides an address "To the Redar," eight chapters concerning 

1 the pest, a disease terribly fatal in Edinburgh in 1568, when 2500 people are said 
to have died of it. It is interesting to note that during the worst three months 
of this visitation, George Bannatyne, a young member of a Forfarshire house, 

■ quitted the city and secluded himself in the family residence near Newtyle, where 

; he betook himself vigorously to transcribing a large amount of Scottish poetry. 
As his 800 closely written folio pages have fortunately come down to our time, 
he was the means of preserving a great amount of early Scottish poetical literature 
which otherwise might never have been heard of. 2 For a further description of 

j Skene's treatise on the pest, see page 372. 

1 Buist : " Dundee Doctors in the Sixteenth Century," Edinburgh Medical Journal, May, 1930. 
'' Dickson and Edmond : " Annals of Scottish Printing," Cambridge, 1890, p. 236. 



The old Latin manuscripts used 
made by the Highland physicians, 
century, but physicians and sur- 
geons were beginning to make 
hand-books in manuscript for 
themselves, written naturally in 
the Scottish vernacular. Books 
were scarce and expensive, and 
any which came into the posses- 
sion of one medical man were 
lent to others that copies might 
be made by hand. 

In the Edinburgh University 
Library there is preserved such a 
small discoloured manuscript 
book, which is typical of this 
period. It contains " The Trea- 
sure of Poor Men " (a book 
printed by Thomas Petyt in 
London in four editions, 1539, 
1540, 1541, 1552), and also " The 
Dyetary of Health," by Andrew 
Boorde (printed by William 
Powell in London, in 1547). It 
had belonged to Adam Wallas, 
Rider at Crosbe Kirk, and bears 
on the fly-leaf that it had been 
" gotn fra the guid vyff of Bukk," 
and had afterwards belonged 
to Adam's son, David Wallace. 
Various recipes have been added 
by Adam or David Wallace, as 
well as notes of their being in 
various parts of Ayrshire at 
different times, and the book has 
evidently been in constant use. 
practical medicine in Scotland at 

in the monasteries, and the Gaelic translations 
were no doubt still employed till the next 

•i 1 yo 


Sixteenth Century Scottish MS. Copy of 
Medical Extracts 
belonging to Adam Wallas (F. 23) 
(Original ill Edinburgh University Library) 

The following extracts give an idea of 
the end of the 16th century : — 

Ane gude Buik of Medycines callit the Treasure of Puir Men. 
Ff. 14V— 15. 

For latting of blude thair be thre perrellous dayes in the yeir. 

Thair ben tre dayis in the yeir, in the quhilk no man sould lat him blude or blode 
nayther for infirmyties nor yet none wther evyllis, nor these davis to take no drynks tlioght 
thay be medycynabill. These ben the dayis fallowing. The last day of Apryll, the fyrst 
Moneday of August, and the last Moneday of December. These thre dayis be forbidden, 
for than ben all the waynes full of blode, of everiman. And therfoir gif a vomen or man 


be latten blude one these dayis, thay sail dye within XV dayis. And ye tak ony medycyne, 
in the abowe said dayis for any maladye, yow sail die schortlie efter. Also gif ye eit ony 
goose flesche in the aboue said dayes yow sail dye within XV dayes efter, or cllis be 
mesell f leprous). 

Thre gude dayes. 

Thre wther gude dayes thair be to be lat blode in, for the fewer, quho that lateth him 
blude one these thre dayes he sail haif no fewer. That is to say the XV days in the endyng 
of May, the XVIII day in the begynning of Marchc, and the fourt day in the endyng of May. 
Quho that lateth him blode in the XVIII day of Marche he sail haif no feuer ne tisyke, 
quho that latteth him blude one the thryde day of Apryll, he sal haif no heid ache. Quho 
that latteth him blude on the XVII day of December or September, or on Sanct Lambertes 
day, he sail not fall in no dropyse, fransy, not tisyke. Quho that latteth him blude one 
the fourt Moncday of July or on the secound Moneday of October, he sail dye haistely. 
And all these heth bene prowed mony tymes. 

Ff. i8v— 19. 

To purge the heid. 

Take the joyce of prymrose, and the mylke of ane knowe, as I supone it should be ane 
kow. And with ane pen blaw it into they nose thrysles, and it sail purge the heid and 
make the hole. 

For the ache in the heid. 
Take camamell for it is gude to ease the yche in the heid, and namely it is gude for the 
brenning feuer that haldeth ane man or women in the heid. 

For the wornie in the heid. 
Calamynt is gude for to sley the worme in the heid. 

For ache in the heid. 

Fennell sodden in water swageth the ache in the heid of man or woman, quhen the 
heid is waschen thairwith. 

F. 23. 

To knaiv gif ane wounded man sail leif or dye. 
Take the leaues of gresse or pympernell and geif him to drynk, and (if) he cast it upe, 
he is not curabill, and he hauld it he is curabill. And to him that is curabill geif him to 
drynk thre dayis pympernell, bugle, and sanycle to purge the wound. And if the wound 
be one heid and breane pan tamed ( pierced ) : than geif to drynke no sanycle for that will 
perysche the eye, or geif him pympernell stamped with water to drynke, and (if) it cum out 
at the wounde he sail leif, or geif him letuse stamped with water, and (if) he spew he sail 
dye. Or geif him mousere (mouse-ear) with ale, and (if) he hauld it to the vther day the 
same tyme, he sail leif or ellis not. 

F. 29. 

For stvnking brcthe that cutneth frome the brayne out of thy nose. 
Take red myntes and rew, of yche lyke moche, take the ioyce thereof, and at even quhen 
thow goest to bed put in into they nose thrylles and lay it so that it may rwnnc into thy 

For gude brethe. 

Quho that vseth to eit verwayne, it maketh gude brethe, and doeth away with the 
stynke of the mwth. 

For stynking brethe or stvnking nose. 
Take the ioyce of blake myntes and the joyce of rew, of the lyke mwch and do it in 
his nose. 


Edinburgh j ne century closed with a tragedy for the medical profession in Edinburgh. 

surgeon s R 0 b er f- Auchmowtie, cherurgeane, a burgess of Edinburgh, was indicted for the 
slaughter in a single combat or duel of James Wauchope, son of George Wauchope 
of Cleghorn, a merchant burgess of Edinburgh. Auchmowtie was a well-known 
surgeon, and, as recorded by Peter Lowe, had been "sometime chirurgion to the 
great hospitall of Paris." 1 

The facts of this case appear to be that Auchmowtie and James 
Wauchope had quarrelled in April, 1600, and had agreed to meet upon 
St. Leonard's Crags in the King's Park, near Holyrood. Here a little dell 
on the top of an eminence formed a favourite place for such meetings. 
They fought with swords and Wauchope was killed. His relatives lodged 
a complaint that Auchmowtie had set upon him with two accomplices 
" and maist schamefullie and crewallie, with swordis, straik him in the face 
and vpoune the heid, and gaif him foure bludie woundis thairon ; and thairbye 
maist barborouslie, crewallie and tyrannouslie slew the said vmquhile [late] 

Old Tolbooth (demolished in 1817), with St. Giles Church, Edinburgh 
(From a ivatcr-colour sketch by Sir Daniel Wilson, in Edinburgh University Library) 

1 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons " Glasgow, i860, p.49. 



James Vauchope, vpoune set purpois, provisioune and foirthocht fellonye." There 
appears, however, to have been no justification for saying that this was anything 
but a regular and fairly-fought duel. At the trial, various objections were 
lodged, and the court appears to have been inclined to postpone and dismiss 
the matter. 

The pursuers, however, produced three letters from King James, written 
to the Justice Clerk and Deputies from Stirling, in May, and from Falkland, 
in June, in which he urged diligence upon the court, and finally ordered 
Auchmowtie to be put to an Assize. The reason for the king's prejudice 
against Auchmowtie does not appear, but in view of these royal commands, 
the issue was clear, and Auchmowtie was convicted of the slaughter and 
condemned to death. 

Still, with the dice of justice loaded against him, Auchmowtie made one more 
| bold bid for freedom. Being put in a ward in the Tolbooth, he declared that he was 
sick and could not bear the light. He hung one cloak outside the bars of his 
1 window and another on the inner side and " he had aqua forth continuallie 
seithing at the irone window, quhill at lest the irone window wes eittine 
throw." Then one morning he arranged with his prentice to give him 
j a signal by waving his handkerchief at the time when the Town Guard 
was removed, and hanging out a rope, he prepared to descend. The Guard, 
unfortunately, had seen the signal, and so Auchmowtie was recaptured. 
He was beheaded at the Market Cross. 1 

Seal of Trinity Hospital. Edinburgh 
After the Reformation 

1 Pitcairn: "Criminal Trials in Scotland," Vol. II, pp. 112-124. 


Chapter IX 

Leprosy, Syphilis and Plague 
Early Public Health Regulations 

by Bernard Gordon, who is traditionally reputed to " otlces of 



Very clear pictures of true leprosy are given in three mediaeval treatises 
in the " Lilium Medicinae, 
have been a Scotsman, and who taught 
at Montpellier between 1285 and 1307 ; 
another by Guy de Chauliac, who wrote 
his treatise on surgery at Avignon 
about 1363 ; and a third by Gilbert, 
the Englishman, whose "Compendium 
Medicinae " was published in 15 10. 
Nevertheless, the diagnosis of leprosy 
was probably made somewhat reck- 
lessly, and no doubt in the Middle 
Ages persons with other skin diseases, 
such as lupus or psoriasis, were some- 
times segregated as lepers. Among the 
generally admitted Scottish lepers, the 
most distinguished was King Robert 
Bruce. 1 

The earliest leper house founded 
in England, so far as is known, was 
the Hospital of St. Peter and St. 
Leonard, at York, founded in 936 a.d. 
by King Athelstane, which provided 
for 206 bedesmen. Another was en- 
dowed at Canterbury by Lanfranc, the 
first Norman Archbishop of that See. 
JOthers were founded later at West- 
Iplinster, Southwark, Highgate and 
ther places in London, and there 

ere numerous other hospitals throughout England. 2 Sir James Y. Simpson 
pollected references to over 100 leper establishments in that country. 3 

one Earlv 

Skull of King Robert Bruce 
showing chronic disease of facial bones, supposed to be leprosy 
(From a cast in the Anatomical Museum, University of Edinburgh) 

1 "Chronicon de Lanereost " (Bannatyne Club), p. 259; also Sir J. Y. Simpson : " Arcrnxological Essays," Vol. II., 
pp. 113-115. For a full discussion of the leprosy of King Robert, see Macartluir, Journal of the Royal Army 
Medical Corps, May, 1926. 

■ Creighton : " History of Epidemics in Britain," Cambridge, 1891, Vol. I., p. 86. 

* Simpson : " Archaeological Kssays," Vol. II., p. 19. 




Charity to 

Although lepers in later days were segregated with much severity in Scotland, 
the following story, related by King David I. to the Abbot of Rievaulx, indicates 
that considerable tenderness was shown to this despised class in early times. The 
Princess Matilda, daughter of King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland and of his 
Queen, Margaret the Atheling, was married to King Henry I. of England in 1100 a.d., 
and next year sought expression for her religious instincts by founding the leper 
hospital of St. Giles in the Fields. She was visited by her brother David, who 
was then a young man, and who later, as King of Scotland, became celebrated 
for his piety as a " sair saint for the croun." The story, as told by him to the 
Abbot of Rievaulx, is related by the latter in Latin to the following effect : — 

" When he was serving as a youth at the English Court, one evening he 
was with his companions in his lodging, when the queen called him into her 
chamber. He found the place full of lepers, and the queen standing in the 
midst, with her robe laid aside and a towel girt round her. Having filled a 
basin with water, she proceeded to wash the feet of the lepers and to wipe them 
with the towel, and then taking them in both her hands, she kissed them with 
devotion. To whom her brother : ' What dost thou, my lady ? Certes if the 
king were to know this, never would he deign to kiss with his lips that mouth 
of thine polluted with the soil of leprous feet.' But she answered with a 
smile : ' Who does not know that the feet of an Eternal King are to be 
preferred to the lips of a mortal king ? See, then, dearest brother, wherefore 
I have called thee, that thou mayest learn by my example to do so also. 
Take the basin, and do what thou hast seen me do.' ' At this,' said David, 
narrating to the abbot, ' I was sore afraid, and answered that I could 
on no account endure it. For as yet I did not know the Lord, nor had 
His Spirit been revealed to me. And as she proceeded with her task, 
I laughed — mea culpa — and returned to my comrades.' " 1 


for lepers 
in Scotland 

The following law regarding lepers was enacted by the Scottish Parliament 
in the 12th century, and it shows incidentally that the burghs of Berwick, 
Roxburgh, Edinburgh and Stirling were then provided with leper hospitals 
outside the towns : — 

(lif [if] ony that duellis in the kyngis burgh or was borne in it be fallyn in lepyr 
that is callit mysal gif that he hafe gudis of his avvne thruch the quhilk [which\ he may 
be sustenyt and cled he sal be put in the spytaile [hospital] of the burgh. And gif he has 
nocht of his awne the burges of that tonne sal ger [cause] be gadderyt amangis thaim a 
codec to the valine of xx s. of the quhilk he may be sustenyt and cled. And it is to 
wyt [to be known] that mysal men sal nocht cntre in the toune gangande [going] fra dur 
[door] to dur but anerly [only] to pas the he [high] way thruch the toune and thai sal sit 
at the toune end and thar ask almous at [alms from] furth passand men and ingangand. 
And mar attour na man sal tak on hand ony mysal man in his house to herbery na reste 
wythin the burgh on payn of a full forfait [forfeit].* 

1 Creighton : " A History of Epidemics in Britain," Cambridge, 1891, Vol. I., p. 83. 

! Laws of the four Burghs (Berwick, Roxburgh, Edinburgh and Stirling), confirmed by King David I. 
the Scottish 1'arliament (1124-1423)," Vol. I., p. 344, cap. 58. 

' Acts of 



In the Forest Laws of Scotland, at an early date, when wild beasts were 
found dead or wounded, the flesh was to be sent to the house of the leper men 
if any such happened to be situated near by. 1 Another Act provided that flesh 
of pork or salmon, found to be corrupt in the markets and accordingly seized, was 
to be sent to the lepers. 2 

In the Parliament of James I., which met at Perth on 1st March, 1427, very 
definite enactments were made in regard to the lepers. Persons afflicted by this 
disease were not to enter any burgh except on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 
between 10 and 2 o'clock ; when a market fell on any of these days, they were 
to delay till the following day ; lepers were to beg only at their own hospitals 
or at the town gate, and in other places outside burghs ; bishops, officials and 
deans were enjoined to enquire, at the visitations to every parish church, whether 
there were any lepers in the parish, and to notify these to the bishop if they were 
I clerks, or to the king if they were laymen. 3 

The best known foundation for lepers in Scotland was that at Kingcase, close 
to the highway between Ayr and Prestwick. This hospital was dedicated to 

JSt. Ninian, and founded by Robert Bruce as a thank-offering for benefit received 
to his own health from the water of a neighbouring spring. It was well endowed 

I with lands and supported eight lepers who had eight bolls of meal and eight merks 
Scots yearlv. It survived the Reformation, and in the time of Charles I. those who 

I shared in the charity lived in huts in the vicinity of the chapel. The ruins of the 
place were still visible in recent times. The right of presentation to the hospital 
was vested in the family of Wallace of Craigie, a right which passed by purchase 
in 1787 to the burgh of Ayr, so that its poorhouse became the lineal descendant of 

King Robert's hospital. 4 

At Uthrogal in Monimail parish, At 
Fifeshire, there existed in early times a Uthrogal 
leper hospital, and this, together with the 
lands of Hospital Mill in the adjoining 
parish of Cults, was given over by Queen 
Mary of Gueldres to the endowment of 
Trinity Hospital at Edinburgh. 5 

at Kingcase 

leper Clappers 

Intended to Rive warning of the approach of a leper 

Various leper houses were built by 
the rich abbeys of Tweedside, such as 
the Hospital of Aldcambus, in Berwick- 
shire, founded in the reign of William 
the Lion, and Aldnestun, in Lauderdale. 



1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," Vol. I., p. 692. 
8 Op. cit., Vol. I., p. 729. 

3 Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 16, cap. 8. 

4 Keith: "An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops," Edinburgh, 1824, p. 476; 

Reformation Church," Edinburgh, 1904, p. 384. 
* " New Statistical Account," Vol. IX., p. 41. 

and Mackinlay : " The Pre- 



At Rothfan A hospital at Rothfan, connected with the cathedral at Elgin, which was 

endowed in 1226, and existed before that time, had accommodation for seven 
lepers, a chaplain and a servant. 

At Glasgow Most of the Scottish leper houses appear, however, to have been refuges in which 

the lepers supported themselves by begging in the neighbouring towns. Such a 
hospital was that at the Gorbals of Glasgow, founded about 1350. This had been 
established by Marjory Stuart, Lady Lochow. 1 From the hospital on the south bank 
of the river the lepers were permitted, under certain stringent conditions, to enter 
the town for the purpose of asking alms. To give warning of their approach, they 
were provided with clappers, and were obliged to wear a cloth over the mouth 
and face, because of an idea that the infection rested chiefly in the breath. The 
number of lepers was not great. A report had to be presented to the Town Council 
every Michaelmas as to the number admitted to the hospital during the year, and 
this usually amounted to about four or five. In the latter part of 1605, there were 
seven lepers in the hospital. 2 

At Edin- In Edinburgh, a leper hospital was founded by the Town Council. In 1584 

burgh they enquired into " the estait and ordour of the awld fundatioun of the 

lipper hous besyde Dyngwall," 3 which was the name of the residence of 
the Provost of Trinity College, and stood on part of the ground now 
occupied by the London and North-Eastern Railway Station. Apparently 
this was not found in a satisfactory condition, for, in 1589, an Act was 
passed by the magistrates to build a leper house at Greenside, and, in 1591 
five lepers of the city were consigned to this hospital. 4 Two of the wives 
of the lepers voluntarily shut themselves up in the hospital along with their 
diseased husbands. Very severe regulations were made by the magistrates to 
prevent those affected by leprosy from mixing with the citizens of Edinburgh 
The lepers were commanded to remain within the walls of the hospital night and 
day, and to have the door shut after sunset, under pain of death. That this 
might not be deemed an empty threat, a gallows was erected on the gable of the 
hospital for the immediate execution of offenders. 5 

This leper hospital appears gradually to have fallen into disrepair. It is 
mentioned in a charter given to the city by Charles I. in 1636, but in 
1652 the magistrates ordered it to be demolished, and its material used for 
other purposes. 

The suburb of Liberton owes its name to a conversion of the term leper-town 
The district was already called by this name in old charters of the reign of David I 
who died in 1153, as in the foundation charter of Holyrood, where its mill an 
chapel are mentioned, but the date at which a leper hospital was founded here is 
lost in obscurity. A well in the neighbourhood, at the Priest's Hill or Grac 

1 M'Ure : " History of Glasgow," 1830, p. 52. 

' Cleland : " Statistical Facts," 1837, p. 22; also " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, 1573-1642," p. 238 
1 *' Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589," p 352. 
4 "Manuscript Records of the Town Council," Vol. IX., pp. q, 12 and 123. 
6 Arnot : "History of Edinburgh," 1779. P- 2 5 8 - 



Mount, was specially celebrated in the Middle Ages for the treatment of skin diseases, 
because of the mineral oil which floated on the surface of the water, and this was in 
all probability used specially by the lepers of Liberton. 

The Balm Well of St. Catherine's Chapel at 
Grace Mount, near Liberton 
The interior is still thickly coated with black, oily material 

In 152S, the Town Council of Edinburgh published an edict dealing with 
lepers, as follows : — 

22 January, 1528 

" The quhilk day, the baillies and counsale statutes and ordanis that [blank] Wilsoun, 
tailyeour, and all vtheris suspect of lippcr within this towne devoyde thame of the samyn 
within xv dayes, and gif the said \blank\ Wilsoun will allege that he hes nocht na sic 
seiknes that he caus the mcdicinaris to purge him be thair aythis in the meanetyme ; and 
als chairges all maner of lipper folkis that ar in lugeis and hospitales about this towne 
that thai convers nocht amang clene folks nother in kirk merkat or vther wayes bot hald 
thame be thame selffis in quyct vnder the payne of banissing the towne." 1 

1 " Extracts from the Records ut the biiiyh ol Edinburgh, Muj-ij^S," p. 23*. 

• 2>«a- 


Map of Aberdeen in 1661 

AV Cordon of Rothcmay 

Showing the site of the Leper Hospital (Rwins of the Sick House) on the road leading; to Old Aberdeen 



In Aberdeen, a leper hospital, which had existed before 1363, is mentioned At Aberdeen 
and figured by Gordon as standing in the 17th century half-way between the 
Gallowgate Port and Old Aberdeen. 

" Such as goe out at the Gallowgaite Port toward Old Aberdeen, halff way almost, 
may see the place wher of old stood the lepers hospitall, called the Seick Hous, hard by 
the wayc syd, to which ther was a chappel] adjoyned, dedicated to St. Anna, quhome the 
papists account patronesse of the leapers. The citizens liccncit one Mr. Alexander 
Gallaway, then person of Kinkell, for to build that chappell anno 1519." 1 

The Kirk Session Records of Aberdeen of the date 13th May, 1604, mention 
that " Ilelene Smyth ane puir woman in feet it with Ieprosie " was ordained to be 
put in the hospital, and the keys of the said hospital to be delivered to her. She 
was apparently the last case for the leper hospital in Aberdeen.- 

In the beginning of the iNth century, the remains of the hospital and 
grounds were sold, though its burial ground is still left. The money was made 
over to the fund for the proposed lunatic asylum. :i 

Leprosy appears to have prevailed in Scotland after its disappearance from 
England, and gradually retreated northwards. The last native leper in Great Britain 
was an inhabitant of the Shetland Isles, and died at Edinburgh in 1798. 


The disease known at the present day as syphilis is generally believed to Appearance 
have broken out for the first time in Europe, about the year 1494, among the of s yP hllls 
people in Naples, and among the troops of Charles VIII. of France, who were 
besieging that city. The earliest notices of it appear between 1492, when 
Columbus discovered the New World, and 141)4, when this outbreak occurred. 
It is generally believed that the followers of Columbus either imported this disease 
to Europe for the first time, or, what is more probable, that they introduced a 
variety of the disease due to a New World strain of the causal organism, which 
then spread in an almost epidemic form. The disease was known by a variety 
of names, such as gor, gore, grandgore, grantgore and glengore, as well as the 
French sickness and sickness of Naples. The word " grandgore " was used by 
Rabelais in 1532. The word " syphilis " was introduced in 1530 by Fracastoro, 
in the title of his Latin poem, in which the chief character bears this name. 

The introduction of this disease into Scotland was attributed to the motley Occurrence 
crowd of foreign adventurers who followed Perkin Warbeck. This individual gave m ScotlaIKl 
himself out to be the younger of the " little princes in the tower," who had been 
spared by the assassins of his brother. He was warmly received at the Scottish 
court by James IV. in 1496, and arrived in Edinburgh attended by 1400 adventurers. 
James IV. regarded his claims with sentimental approbation and treated him as a 
I useful instrument to employ against Henry VII. of England, even conferring 
Upon him in marriage the hand of the Lady Catharine Gordon, daughter of the 
Earl of Huntly. A truce, however, being concluded with England, Perkin Warbeck 
and his mercenaries left Edinburgh in the latter part of 1497 and, two years later, 
he was captured in Cornwall and executed at Tyburn. 4 

1 Gordon of Rothetnay : " Abrcdoniae Utriusque Oescriptio," Spalding Club, 184.:, p. 19. 

* Cormack : " Poor Relief in Scotland," Aberdeen, 19^3, p. 153. 
1 Simpson : " Archaeological Essays," Vol. II., p. 13. 

* Pirtkeiton : " History of Scotland," London, 1797, V ol. II., p. 33. 



By 1497 and 1498 there are numerous references to the incidence of the 
disease in different parts of Europe. Those which concern us here are especially 
regulations promulgated by the Town Councils of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, with 
the object of checking its spread. The regulation in regard to Aberdeen is 
dated 21st April, 1497, and is the earliest notice of this kind in Britain. It runs 
as follows : — 

21 April, 1497 

" The said day, it was statut and ordanit be the alderman and consale for the 
eschevin [avoidance] of the infirmitcy curam out of Franche and Strang partis, that all 
licht weman be chargit and ordanit to decist fra thar vicis and syne of venerie, and al 
thair buthis and houssis skalit [emptied], and thai to pas and wirk for thar sustentacioun, 
vnder the payne of ane key of het yrne one thar chekis, and banysene of the toune." 1 

A few years later, in 1507, the Aberdeen Town Council passed several statutes 
connected with the public health, and one of these dealt with the segregation in their 
own houses of persons infected with the " strange seiknes of Nappillis," while 
another forbade folks infected with this sickness to appear at the common flesh- 
house or to hold converse with fleshers, bakers, brewers and " ladinaris," for the 
safety of the town. 2 

It is interesting to note that the Town Council of Aberdeen appear to have 
clearly discerned the method in which this disease was usually spread, at a time 
when continental authorities were still in the dark as to its origin. 

At Edin- The Town Council of Edinburgh, apparently acting under instructions from 

burgh King James IV., issued a stringent and celebrated regulation on 22nd September, 

1497, through which segregation was to be still more effectively carried out by 
banishing all those sick of this disease, together with those who professed to cure 
it, to the Island of Inchkeith. Unfortunately, these restrictions, both in 
Aberdeen and Edinburgh, although well-designed, appear to have been ineffective. 
The regulation in Edinburgh was as follows : — 

22 September, 1497 (Ane grandgore Act) 
" It is our Soueraine Lordis will, and the command of the lordis of his counsale send 
to the provest and baillies within this burgh, that this proclamatioun follow and be put 
till executioun for the eschewing [avoidance] of the greit appearand dainger of the infectioun 
of his liegis fra this contagius seiknes callit the grandgor, and the greit vther skayth 
[damage] that may occure to his legeis and inhabitouris within this burgh, that is to say: 
We charge straitlie and commandis be the authoritie aboue writtin, that all maner of 
personis, being within the fredome of this burgh, quhilkis [who] ar infectit or lies bene 
infectit vncunt with this said contagious plage callit the grandgor, devoyd red [leave clear] 
and pas furth of this toun and compeir [assemble] vpoun the sandis of Leith at x houris 
befoir none, and thair sail thai haue and fvnd botis reddie in the havin ordanit to thame 
be the officeris of this burgh reddely furneist with victuallis to have thame to the Inche 
[Inchkeith], and thair to remane quhill God prouyde for thair health ; and that all 
vther personis the quhilkis takis vpoun thame to hale the said contagious infirmitie, 
and takis the cure thairof, that thay devoyd and pas with thame, sua that nane of thir 
jh i soins quhilkis takis sic cure vpoun thame vse the samyn cure within this burgh in 

Early regu- 
lations at 

1 " Extracts from the Council Register of the liurgh of Aberdeen, 1398-1570," Spalding Club, 1844, p. 425. 
* Op. cit., p. 437. 



presens [at present] nor pcirt [appear] ony manor of way ; and quha sa beis fundin 
iniectit and nocht passand to the Inche as said is be Monounday at the sone ganging to 
[sunset], and in lykwayis the saidis pcrsonis that takis the said cure of sanitie vpoun thame 
gif [if] thai will vse the samyn, thai and ilk [each] of thame salbc [shall be] brynt 
[branded] on the cheik with the marking irne that thai may be kennit in tyme to cum, 
and thaircftcr gif ony of thame remainis that tha salbe banist but [without] favouris." 1 

That these regulations were not merely formal, and that the profession to 
cure this disease was treated as a grave responsibility, is made clear by the 
following notice regarding Thomas Lyn, a burgess of Edinburgh, under whose 
treatment Sir Lancelote Patonsoun had died : — 

18 January, 1509 

" Respitt made to Thomas Lyn, burges of Edinburgh, for ye slauchtir of vmquhile 
[deceased] Schir Lancelote Patonsoun, Chapellain, quhilk happinnit be negligent cure 
and medicine yat ye said Thomas tuk one him to cure and hele ye said vmquhile 
Schir Lancelote of ye infirmite of ye grantgor, yat he was infekkit with. To endure 
for xix zeris. (Subscriptum per dominum Regem, apud Edinburghe)." * 

The disease seems to have made its first appearance all over Scotland, General 
as appears from the following live notices in the treasurer's accounts, indicating ^."^p 1 ," 
that King James IV. had distributed alms to persons afflicted by the disease at 
Linlithgow, Stirling, Glasgow and Dairy : — 

2 October, 1497 

" Item to thaim that hed the grantgor at Linlithquho ... ... viijd." 

21 February, 1498 

" Item, that samyn day at the tounne end of Strivelin 10 the seke 
folk in the grantgore ... ... ... ... ... ... ijs." 

22 February, 1498 

" Item, the xxij day of Februar gilhn to the seke folk in the 
grangore at the tounn end of Glasgo ... ... ... ... ijs. 

April, 1498 

". . . . seke folk in grangor in Lithgw as the King com in the toune... ijs. viijd."' 

1 September, 1497 
" Item, to a woman with ye grantgore thair (at St. John's Kirk ot 
Dalrye, when the King was on a Pilgrimage to ' Quhithirne ') ... ... iijs. vjd."* 

It is very probable that these moneys were given to patients who had 
submitted themselves to different forms of treatment tried upon them by the 
feing himself. 

The disease was apparently looked upon with great detestation, for, in 1591, 
a year of great activity against witches, one of the charges against Ewfame 
Mackalzanc was that she had bewitched Marie Sandelandis and dissuaded her 
from marrying Joseph Dowglas, of Punfrastoune, alleging that he had the 
glengore himself. For this, along with 2j other charges, she was taken to 
the " Castel-hill of Edinburghe, and thair bund to ane staik and brunt in assis, 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Hurgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," pp. 71 and 72. 

; Pitcairn : "Criminal Trials in Scotland," Edinburgh) 1833, Vol. I., Tart I., p. 110. 

' Simpson : " Archaeological Essays," Edinburgh, 1872, Vol. II., p. 310. 

1 Pitcairn: "Criminal Trials in Scotland," Edinburgh, 1833, Vol. I., Part I., p. 117. 



quick, to the death." This was the severest sentence ever pronounced by the 
court, for, in ordinary cases of witchcraft, the culprit was previously strangled at 
the stake before being burned. 1 

Numerous references to the disease occur in the contemporary poems of 
Sir David Lyndsay and William Dunbar. 

Although the disease was present in Glasgow in 1497, the Town Council do 
not seem to have become seriously alarmed about it until the year 1600, when, 
on 17th April, the Kirk Session consulted as to how the infection of the glengore 
within the city might be removed : " Some sent to the Council to deplore the 
infection that's in this city by the Glengore, and some to convene again in the 
Blackfriars Kirk anent it, and the whole chirurgeons and professors of medicine 
to be present. So much was given to a man for bigging a lodge without the 
Stable Green Port to the women that hath the glengore." 2 

A minute of 3rd May, a fortnight later, continues : " The provest, bailleis 
and counsale lies appoyntit Weddinsdye nixt, eftir the preiching, to con vein thame- 
selffis for taking tryall of the inhabitantis anent the greit suspicioune of sindry 
persones infectit with the glengoir, quhilk, gif it be nocht preventit, will endanger 
the haill towne, and hes ordanit the haill chyrurgianes to be warnit to that effect 
to compeir in the Grayefreir Kirk and qu'haever beis warnit (and comes nocht) 
to pay fyve li. of vnlaw." 3 The town's surgeon, Mr. Peter Lowe, had, four years 
earlier, written a book on the disease, which he had called " The Spanish Sicknes." 
Possibly his large experience in treating " Spaniards and French, both men and 
woman, of divers temperatures, who had often been treated both in Spain, Lowe 
Countries and Fraunce," and whom, he says, he had cured " by the help of God 
and my confection," may have had some effect, if not in staying the disease, in 
robbing it of some of its terrors. 4 


Early Several epidemics of plague in Scotland are mentioned by the early historians, 

accounts of -jq ie epidemic which raged throughout Europe in 669 a.d. is recorded by 
Scotland 1 Fordun to have twice devastated Ireland and Britain, but to have spared the Picts 
and the Scots, although, as he says, great sins were not wanting among these 
peoples. 5 The contemporary Northumbrian records make it clear that the 
plague ravaged disastrously the Lothian district of present-day Scotland. Scarcely 
any inhabitants were left in country places that had previously been thickly 
inhabited, and some towns were wholly desolated. Among others, a celebrated 
sufferer from the plague was St. Cuthbert, who, however, escaped with his life." 

In the year 1336, a curious pestilence is mentioned by Fordun as having 
occurred among the fowls of Scotland, so that almost the whole species of 

1 Pitcairn : " Criminal Trials in Scotland," Edinburgh, 1833, Vol. I., Part II., pp. 252 and 257. 

• Annals from extracts of the Kirk Session, quoted by Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons 

of Glasgow," 1896, p. 15. 
3 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, 1573-1642," p. 206. 

1 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow," Maclehose, Glasgow, 1896, p. 15. 

• John of Fordun, " Scotic hronicon," Hk. III., Ch. 40. 

• Bcda; : " Vita S. Cuthberti," Cap. VIII. 



cocks and hens in the country was totally destroyed, but apparently human 
beings were unaffected. There had previously been a similar epidemic among 
the fowls of England in 671. a.d. 1 

In the year 1350, the same author records great pestilence and mortality in the 
kingdom of Scotland, which was worse than any plague before or alter up to his 
time in the following century. In this attack almost one-third of the people died. 
He mentions that it attacked especially people in moderate circumstances and 
the poor; and was rarely found in nobles, while it raised such honor of contagion 
that children lied from their dying parents, and parents from their children as if 
from the face of a leper or a snake. Again, in IJ02, the plague raged over the whole 
kingdom of Scotland. These outbreaks were part of the " Black Death," which 
was spread over Europe by the advent of the black rat bringing infection from 
the East. 2 

In the year l4_'o many well-known nobles died of an inlirinitv which also killed 
multitudes of the common people, and was known vulgarly as " Ouhcw." Bower, 
who describes this epidemic, and shows in doing so a considerable interest in 
medicine, savs that it was due to the irregularity of the seasons. He then gives 
a disquisition to show, with the support of Galen, whom he quotes, that, when the 
winter is mild and damp, and the spring cold and dry, sickness is prevalent and 
abortion readily occurs/' 

In February, 14.51, a Hying pestilence appeared in Edinburgh. Again, in 
14.;-!, the thing pestilence began in the town of Haddington. 4 

In the year 1498, the plague, which had appeared in the south of Europe 
about a century and a half previously, attained alarming dimensions in Edinburgh, 
and a series of regulations was made by the Town Council with the object of 
stamping it out in the city. The regulations began on 28th March, 149S, and 
on 17th November, 1498, the Provost, Baillies and Council, referring to the danger 
of perilous sickness or pestilence now risen in the east part and largely spread, 
forbade anyone in the burgh to harbour or receive any traveller on foot or 
horseback, rich or poor, without first obtaining permission from the Baillies, the 
penalty for contravention being confiscation of all goods and banishment from 
the town. 

Glasgow seems to have been suspected of harbouring the plague, because 
anyone passing to Glasgow without permission was subject to quarantine of forty 
days outside the town. In the following year, further regulations were made 
against bringing in merchandise, such as wool, skins, hides, or cloth or any 
kind of food, without permission of the Baillies. Some of the parishes close to 
Edinburgh, as well as Haddington and Kelso, were in this year afflicted by 
the plague, and it was forbidden to receive any persons coming from these 
places. Contravention of these regulations was to be punished by branding 
on the cheek and banishing from the town. 

of plague at 

from other 
tow 11s 

1 " Anglo Saxon Chronicle," Ann. cit, 

• Comrie : Edinburgh Medical Journal, Septrinlx r, 19.27, p. 505. 
3 Bower : " Scotichronici Continuatio," Ch. XXXII. 
' Bower : Op. cit., Ch. XVI. and XX. 



The Town Council of Aberdeen, in 1498, confirmed and ratified certain 
regulations made against pestilence, and in particular the four ports of the city 
were to be watched by the citizens, although the town was not invaded by 
plague for some time. 1 

In Peebles, also, the four ports of the town were closed and people were forbidden 
to go to Edinburgh or to bring anything from this place. The side walls of the 
town, which had apparently fallen into disrepair, were to be made up and none 
was to be received into the town without leave from the quartermasters. This was 
in October, 1468. 2 

The Burgh of Dunfermline also segregated itself for fear of the plague in July, 
1499, forbidding any dealing in food outside the town during the time of the plague. 3 
The plague either actually appeared, or at least threatened in Dunfermline in the 
year 1504, for the treasurer included in his accounts for that year a note that 
expense had been incurred for the carriage of the queen's gear from Dunfermline 
to Lindores, and his feelings in regard to feminine caprice have apparently inspired 
the following : — 

Item, for xj cartis of Coupir in Fiff quhilk passit to Dunfermlyn to haf caryit the 
Queries and Inglismennis gere to Lundoris be the comptrollaris command quhen the Quene 
suld haf left Dunfermlyne for pestilence and syne scho departit nocht ; to ilk cart viij s., 
summa iiij li. viij s." 4 

Early regu- In 1499, the plague appears to have broken out in Edinburgh, and more 

Fdinbiindi stringent regulations were adopted. Dogs and " swyne " were to be kept 
" in hous and band," or, if found in the streets and lanes, were to be 
slaughtered. Children under 15 years of age were forbidden to wander in 
the streets under pain of being put in the stocks and beaten. The schools 
were to be closed, the booths were not to be opened nor markets to be held, 
and intercourse with Leith was forbidden. The following is the text of the 
regulations introduced to deal with these matters 5 : — 

6 February, 1499 

"ft is avysit and statute, in augmentatioun of the first statute," that na maner of 
persoun pas furth of this toune to bye or bring in within this towne ony maner of mer- 
chandise, sic as woll, skvnnis, hyds, or clavth, bot gif thai haif licence of the bailhes and 
counsale, and with that that thai bring sufficient testimonials that thai ar cum in furth of 
clene places, vnder the payne of byrning of the stufe and halding furth of the persouns 
brekares of this statute furth of the town. 

" Item, that na maner of stufe nor victuallis be brocht nor rcsauit into this towne out 
of na maner of suspect places, vnder payne of byrning and banesing of the bringares." 

27 April, 1499 

"ft is statute and forbidden that ony persouns dwelling within this towne house 
harbery or resett ony persouns of Hadingtoun (or) Kelso, considering the seikness is 

" Extracts from the Counc il Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen," Vol. I., p. 66. 

" Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Peebles, 1165-1710," p. 157. 

" The Burgh Records of Dunfermline," Edinburgh, 1017, p. 99. 

" Ai 1 "lints of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Vol. II., p. 463. 

" Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," pp 71, 74-76. 

17th November, 1498. 



largelie spred thair, vnder the paync of deid, and als that nanc of thame cum within this 
towne vnder payne of byrning on thair cheiks with hctt yrne and bancsing furth of the same. 

" Item, that na manor of persoun indwellare of this towne pas till Peblis for ony maner 
of airands without leif askit and obtenit fra the officeris, provest or baillies, vnder the 
pavne of withalding furth of the town and banesing but favouris." 

8 June, 1499 

"It is statute and ordanit that all maner of persouns within this burgh, haffand dogs 
or swyne, sail observe and keip thame in hous and band, swa that quhair thai may be fundm 
in the contrair within this burgh, in hie streits or venellis, thai to be slayne be the 
persouns limit thairto. 

" Item, that na maner of bairnis within xv yeirs of aige be fundin on the gaitt or in 
streitts or in the kirk, vagand, vnder the payne to the said bairnis of putting of thame 
in the stoks and scurgeing of thame with wands. 

" Item, it is forbidden that ony scholes be halden be ony maner of persouns, men or 
women, vnder the payne to the haldare of bannesing this towne. 

" Item, it is forbidden that ony maner of buithes be Oppin to mak merchandice into, 
or that ony merkett be maid at the ports of this burgh or thairabout, vnder the payne 
of escheitt of the guidis quhair it may be fundin, bot favouris. 

" Item, that all persouns of this towne haiffand onv vittalcs of corn, wyne and lloure 
in Leyth, that thai bring up the samyn to this towne in all guidlie and possibill haist, 
for thai heif declairit to the keperis and rewlares of Leyth that thai latt in na persouns 
thairin to by ony maner of vittaies." 

In 1499, the magistrates became much concerned with regard to the dirty Cleansing 
state of the city, and in November of that year they appointed several cleansers 0 ouses 
to clean houses with a view to disinfection, at a cost of ten shillings to men of 
substance, live shillings to others, and to the poor according to their faculty 
of paving. The official cleansers were to have for wages twelve pence daily — 
a large sum in those days for a day labourer — because the work was arduous 
and dangerous. 

In the beginning of the next year (1500), the Provost and Baillies made 
further regulations with regard to houses and clothing presumed to be 
infected. The chief means of disinfection was an order to wash furniture and 
clothing in the running Water of Leith, washing in the various lochs round the 
tow n being forbidden. The official cleansers were now five in number, and they 
were to carry, as a badge of office, a little wand with a hoop of white iron at the 
end. They were to hear mass in the Hospital of St. Mary's Wynd, and their 
wages were now reduced to six pence a day, but they were to have fees for burials 
and the cleansing of houses. 1 

On 27th September, 1509, a more definite arrangement regarding the town Of streets 
cleansing was reached. Thomas Jhonstoun and Jhone Broun were appointed 
cleansers, with the duty of keeping the High Street clean from the Castlehill to 
the head of Leith Wynd, and of setting down yearly 40 roods ot new 
causeway wherever it should be most required. For this service each inhabitant 
of the High Street was assessed four pence in the year, while fleshers and 
fishmongers, because of " thair inhonestie and tilth of the same," were 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," pp. "6-78. 



to pay sixteen pence in the year, with additional charges for the cleansing 
of their stands. 1 Still later, in 1527, a whole-time officer in the person of 
Alexander Pennecthk was appointed to see that the causeway was " dicht and 
clengeit sufficiently " every eight days, being provided with twelve servants for 
this purpose, and receiving the sum of twenty pounds yearly. 2 

Stringent regulations were made in the year 1500 against servants buying 
clothing without the knowledge of their master or mistress, against the holding 
of markets until the ensuing St. Giles Day, and against receiving any goods from 
the country without leave of the town's officers. Beggars and vagabonds not 
provided with tokens from the magistracy were ordered to leave the town on pain 
of death. The penalty to the citizens for disobeying these regulations was 
branding on the cheek and banishing from the town, in the case of a woman, 
while a man was to have his hand struck off and similarly to be banished. 3 

These penalties were no idle threat, for on 31st December, 1502, there is a note 
that a certain Harvy was convicted of breaking the Acts of the town, for which he 
was adjudged to be taken to the Tron, have his hand struck off and be banished 
from the town. It does not say what specific Act he broke, but it appears from the 
context that he had broken some of the regulations directed against the plague. 4 
Also on 27th May, 1521, a certain Bessye Symourtoun, who was taken by the watch 
in the act of hiding plague-infected gear under a pile of wood at the end of Fowler's 
Close, was adjudged to be branded on the cheek and banished from the town. 5 

As time went on and the plague approached nearer to Edinburgh, the 
regulations of the Town Council became more strict. In 1502, people other than 
officers were forbidden to hold any intercourse with infected persons in the town, 
under the usual penalties, and everyone appearing after 9 o'clock at night in the 
High Street had to carry a light. 6 Any persons or goods which had been taken 
to the Water of Leith for cleansing had to receive a permit in writing to re-enter 
the town, and the space of time which had to elapse for cleansing and drying the 
Fumigation goods was eight to ten days, after which an isolation period of five or six days had 
to be passed in the house. Before re-entry to the house, fumigation with heather 
was ordained. 

The persons employed to bury the dead were forbidden to mix with the 
other citizens. 7 It is interesting that three days after the Seal of Cause had 
been granted to the Surgeons and Barbers, viz., on 4th July, 1505, a number 
of further regulations were made in regard to plague. The first example of 
Notification notification of an infectious disease occurs in the rules that all cases of plague 
must be revealed to the officers of the town within 24 hours of onset. 8 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," pp. 124 and 125. 

s Op. cit., p. 232. 

■ Op. cit., p. 7«- 

4 Op. cit , p. 96. 

' Op. cit., p. 204. 

• Op. cit., p. 06. 

7 Op. cit., pp. ico and fox. 

8 Op. cit., pp. 104 and 105. 



Three months later the duty of notification was imposed upon the " folkis 
haiffand the rewle and gouernance of that house," and the time for notification 
was shortened to twelve hours, under pains of branding and banishing. 1 

An officer was provided with a horse and close cart and two servants to 
cleanse the High Street daily, and it was forbidden to leave any filth on the 
street longer than ^4 hours. The sale of second-hand clothes and the shaking 
or hanging of skins in front of houses was forbidden. 2 

The plague seems to have died out for some time, but on 14th October, 1512, 
the magistrates appear to have thought it necessary to recapitulate all the 
rules in regard to notification of cases of the plague, exclusion of strangers, 
shutting up of dogs and swine, cleansing of infected goods, etc., and on 
the 17th January following, a letter, under the Great Seal, was issued by 
James IV., containing practically the same provisions. In this letter a 
quarantine period of 40 days is imposed upon infected persons. 3 In 1514, the 
town was divided into four quarters assigned to four baillies for supervision. 4 

The letter containing these regulations for the prevention of plague was sent Letter of 
by messenger to all the burghs in Scotland, and from 1513 onwards the other J ames 
burghs appear to have followed the practice introduced at Edinburgh. One 
messenger bore the letter to the burghs in the north and another to those south 
of the Forth. The treasurer's accounts record the following payments to the 
messengers : — 

" Item, the xxix day of Januar, to James Bissate, mcssingcr, to pas with the Kyngis 
lettres to all borowis, fra Forth north, for the gud rewill anent the pestilence, xxx s. 

" Item to Duncane Riche, to pas inlikewis to all borowis with the said lettres fra Forth 
south, xxx s." * 

The text of the letter runs as follows : — 

" James be the grace of God king of Scottis to the provest and baillies of our burgh of 
Edinburgh greting : Wit ye that with the avys of our counsale for stancheing of the 
contagious plaige of pestilence now ringing in dyuers places within this our realm, and 
be Goddis grace to eschew siclvk and apperand cans of the samyn in tyme aiming, safer 
as may be done with diligence of men, lies deuysit thir statutis and rewlis to be maid and 
keipit anent the samyn in tyme aiming as eftir followis : Oure will is heirfoir and we 
charge yow straitlie and commandis that ye mak the saidis statutis and rewlis be kepit 
within the boundis of your office, that is to say, that yc incontinent 111 our name and 
authoretie command and change be oppin proclamation!! at the mercat croce of our said 
burgh all and sindry our lieges and subiectis, and alsua strangearis of all vther natiouns Exclusion of 
resorting within this realme, that nane of thame tak vpoun hand to bring within this ourc infected 
realme, ilis, or ony pairt thairof, be sey or land, ony infectit guidis fra vther pairtis, bot goods 
that they mak scharp tryall and diligence to eschew the samyn, under the pain of deid ; 
and gif ony thair vnwitting happinis to bring ony infectit stuf necligentlie that they 
incontinent revele the samyn to the provest cldermen baillies or officiaris of the place 
quhair thay arrive, and vse the command of the said officiaris thairin in eschewin thedainger 
thairof, vnder the pain of deid foirsaid ; alssua that na infectit persoun or persouns man 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," p. 106. 

* Op. cit., pp. 105-107. 

' Op. cit., pp. 139-141. 

1 Op. cit., pp. 149 and 150. 

1 " Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1877, Vol. IV., p. 404. 



Isolation of 
40 clays 

Penalty of 
death for 

Dogs, swine 
and cats to 
be destroyed 

Towns to be 


taken on 
Burgh Muir 

or woman our lieges or strangeris being infectit or cumin fra ony infectit places or persouns 
or intromitting with ony infectit persounis or gudis cum to kirk mercat priuelie or appertlie 
be day or nicht or intromet or convers with clene folkis vnder the paid of deid ; alssua 
that na persoun nor persouns of quhatsumeuer estait or degrie close in thair houssis, or 
put to ony vther places be the provest eldermen baillies or officiaris of the burgh or land 
quhair they ar, cum furth of thair houssis or places that thay ar or sal happin to be put 
to be nicht or day, bot that thay keip that waird and houssis committit to thame vnder 
the pain of deid ; Attour all sic infectit persouns as God relevis thame of pestilence and 
givis thame heall that thay convers nocht nor hant nocht with haill folkis for the speice of 
xl dayis thairefter, without he haif ane quhyt vand in thair hand, or ane quhyt claith sewit 
vpoun thair brestis, in taikin of thair seiknes gif thay cum furth, that vther clane folkis 
may eschew thame, vnder the pain of deid forsaid ; alssua that the houssis gif ony be now 
infectit or suspectit heirefter that thay haif nalit vpoun thair staris and durris in the maist 
vtvard and sichty place of thair said houssis ane quhyt claith, in taikin of thair infectioun, 
and that ye within your boundis se that the samyn be done as ye will ansuer to ws at vour 
vtter perrell, and quha that beis fundin doing or attempting to do contrar the premissis 
statutis and ordinance maid be ws and our counsall for the weill of our realme and lieges 
be ony maner of way in tymc cuming efter the day and the dait heirof that ye within all 
your boundis mak thay suspectit persouns be on force put in sure fermance, and amang 
vtheris suspectit pcrsonis, thair to remane quhill thai be put to ane assys, and gyf thai be 
convict of ony of the said pointtis and articlis that ye put the samyn to executioun of deid; 
attoure that ye caus clengeing to be maid delegentlie of all suspectit personis houssis and 
guidis, gyf ony be at this tvme, or happinis to be in tyme cuming within the boundis of 
your office, and tak deligent cure and mak scharp executioun heirin as ye will ansuer to ws 
thairvpoun, and vnder the pane of dittay to be takin of yow for youre necligence buddis 
or favoris to be pvnist with rigour and ye be fundin necligent or culpabill heirin ; Attour 
that ye caus all vile and suspect beistis, as doggis, swyn, and cattis, except thame that ar 
keipit in bandis, to be slane quhairewer thai may be apprehendit within your said boundis 
the tvme of pestilence, gyf ony happinis, the quhilkis salbe fre to be slane be all personis 
officiaris or vtheris that findis thame lous for the tyme, without ony amendis to be 
maid thairfoir to the pairtie ; Attoure that ye in our name command and charge be oppin 
proclamatioun all our liegis within the boundis of your office to clenge rewes, windis, closis, 
and guttaris, bayth on baksyd and foresyd, ilk ane of thame for thair avin pairt, within 
foure dayis nixt efter vour charge, vnder the pane of ane vnlaw of fyve merkis, and to be 
takin vp and appliit to yow and officiaris of our said burgh for the clengeing of the samyn, 
and that na personis lay middingis at portis or entres of oure said burgh vnder the said pane, 
and als that all our liegis cum and vse merchandice and bring to oure mercat all necessaris 
for merket ami court, and that everie man answer for his seruandis twiching the observatioun 
of all thair statutis, vnder the samyn panis ; and that ye suffer na beggaris to remane 
within our said burgh bot thai that has ane takin gevin be yow to thame, and thai to be 
impotent aged or blind folkis, that ar nocht abill to wyn thair Leving within the realms 
vtherwavis, as ye will ansuer to ws thairvpoun. The quhilk to do we commit to yow 
coniunctle and seueralle oure full power be thir our lettres. Gevin vnder our signet at 
Edinburgh the xvij day of Jannar, and of our regime the xxv yeir." 1 

It appears that the practice of using the Burgh Muir for disinfection, and 
also for burying persons dead of the plague, had gradually grown up. All goods 
to be disinfected, and corpses to be buried, were to be removed between nine in the 
evening and five in the morning. 2 Beggars and others who were excluded from 
the town had apparently taken up their quarters in houses and barns on the 
Burgh Muir, which, therefore, were ordered by the Town Council to be unroofed 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," pp. 139-141. 
1 Op. cit., pp. 176 and 177. 



3rd April, 1520. 1 As time went on, the regulations against possible 
infection became stronger and, on 27th August, 1519, it was ordained by the 
Town Council that persons coming from suspected places or entering the burgh 
with pestilence upon them would do so under pain of death. - 

After this time the plague again seems to have died out for some years, but 
in 1529 the regulations against infection were renewed. Dundee, Perth, Cupar 
and other towns beyond the Forth were now suspected, and no one was to come 
to the Fair of Hallowmass from these places. 3 Alane Blair having, despite these 
regulations, come from the town of St. Andrews, the Provost and Baillies were 
graciously pleased to have " dispensit with his lyf," but they banished him from 
the town for all the days of his life under pain of death. 4 Dauid Scot, who had 
entered the town, despite his having been twice banished before for breaking 
of the plague statutes, was now scourged and banished anew for all the days 
of his life under pain of death. In this year the plague was apparently 
severe in St. Andrews, for not only were Edinburgh citizens forbidden to cross 
the Forth, but they were forbidden to receive anyone from St. Andrews under 
lain of banishment. 5 

Margret Cok, being convicted by an Assize of coming from St. Andrews with Persons 
infected gear, was branded on both cheeks, her clothes burned, and herself banished bran cied for 
from the town, under pain of death. 6 A similar regulation was passed with rules 
regard to St. Monance on 20th February, 1530, and numerous other banishments 
arc recorded about this time. 7 

Despite all these stringent regulations, the plague appears to have broken 
out in the city in May, 1530. The regulations were again promulgated, com- 
munication with St. Andrews, wandering of swine about the town, and bringing 
in of clothing forbidden. It was found that great filth had accumulated both 
on the High Street and in the closes as well as in the gutters of the town, and 
therefore every man and woman was bidden to " dicht and mak clene befor ther 
durris and closis," under pain of banishment at the Provost's pleasure. 

At the same time, Issobell Forsyth, who had mixed with infected folk and taken 
the sickness herself, was branded on the cheek, banished for life from the town, and 
meantime ordained to be taken to the Burgh Muir until she should be recovered. 
Issobell Cattail also, for keeping secret the sickness of her daughter within her 
house for three days without revealing it to the officers of the town, was branded, 
and she with all her children was banished from the town to remain meantime 
on the Burgh Muir until they were cleansed." 

The striking off of the hand of male offenders does not seem, however, to 
have been so rigorously enforced, for on 25th June, 1530, George M'Turk and 

1 " Extracts from the Records of tht Burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1528," p. 196. 

* Op. cit., p. 190. 

' Op. cit., 1528-1557, p. 10. 

4 Op. cit., p. 11. 

5 Op. cit., pp. 15 and 16. 
' Op. cit., p. 19. 

' Op. cit., p. 20. 

" Op. cit., pp. 28-30. 



Dauid Duly 
to be hanged 




Male Mudy, his spouse, Marione Suddirland and Alisone Bird, for having a 
child sick in their house for three days without revealing it to the officers until 
the child died, were all branded on the cheek, while Marione Suddirland, who 
was supposed to have been the source of the infection, was banished for life under 
pain of death, and the other three banished during the town's pleasure. 

Patrik Gowanlok, for harbouring an infected woman for ten days in the lodging 
of the Abbot of Melrose, was banished for ever, while the servant, Jonet Cowane, 
who was the cause of the trouble, was sentenced to be branded on both cheeks 
and banished. A general invitation was issued to those of the townspeople who 
liked to see justice executed, to come incontinently to the Greyfriars Port where 
they would see this carried out. 1 After three months' banishment, the Provost 
and Baillies relented and allowed Patrik Gowanlok to " cum and duell within 
this toune as he wes wont till do." There appears, however, to have been no 
relenting towards Jonet Cowane. 2 

An aggravated offence was committed by Dauid Duly, tailor, who 
had kept his wife, being sick of the plague, for two days in his house 
until she died, without revealing the same to the officers, and in the 
meantime had gone to mass at St. Giles Kirk on Sunday " amangis the cleyne 
pepill, his wife beand in extremis in the said seiknes." As, in the opinion of the 
Town Council, he had done what was in him to infect all the town, he was adjudged 
to be hanged on a gibbet before his own door. The Council, however, seems 
to have been somewhat half-hearted in its wrath, because after the gibbet had 
been erected, it is related that Dauid " at the will of God eschapit," through the 
rope having broken. As he was " ane pure man with small bairns," the Provost 
and Baillies took pity on him and commuted his sentence to banishment j 
for life. Willie Myllar, another tailor, for putting out of his house a woman 
sick of the plague without revealing this to the officers of the town, on the same 
day received the lesser punishment of being branded on the cheek and banished 
from the town. 3 

It was evidently regarded as a very serious crime for anyone who was sick 1 
or who was in contact with the sick, to appear at church, and in October of] 
this year Marione Clerk was tried by an Assize for appearing at mass in the Chapel 
of St. Mary's Wynd, and for going to her sister's house and other places while the 
pestilence was upon her. For this she was adjudged to be taken to " the 
quarell hollis, and thair to be drounit quhill scho be deid." 4 Issobell Bowy 
and Kate Boyd, who had been shut up in their houses for suspicion of the plague, 
were tried for having opened a feather bed and sold half a stone of feathers to 
Besse Andirsone, thus running the risk of infecting the whole town, for which 
the three women were banished. 5 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1528-1557, 

1 Op. cit., p. 42. 

' Op. cit., pp. 35-37. 

4 Op. c't., p. 43. 

6 Op. cit., p. 42. 

PP- 35-37- 


J I I 

During this epidemic, many people fled from the town, and were forbidden 
to return without permission from the Council. At various periods, edicts 
were issued for cleansing the goods of persons who had remained. There are 
numerous references to infected persons being transferred to the Burgh Muir 
south of the town (the district now occupied by Bruntsfield Links, the Grange 
and Nortli Morningside, southwards to the Jordan or Pow Burn and eastwards 
to Dalkeith Road). 

The favourite place for cleansing goods was in the Water of Leith at isolation 
Drumsheugh. 1 The goods and clothes of infected people in the .Muir station at 
were apparently stored in St. Koch's Chapel (which stood near the present chapef*'' 
Grange Loan), and an intimation was made in December, 1530, that people could 

Chapel of St. Roch or St. Roque 
In the Burgh Muir of Edinburgh early In the 19th Century, with Blackford Hill and Liberton Church Spire 

in the background 

now claim these, or if they were unclaimed, they were to be burned. 2 In the 
[severe epidemic which again broke out in 1585, St. Roch's Chapel was used as an 
isolation place for persons suspected of having the plague/ 1 

Persons who had been taken to the Burgh Muir for isolation were forbidden 
J to come back to town, and especially to St. Giles Church, until they had a licence 
Ifrom the Baillies. In September, 1530, the Provost and Baillies intimated that 
1 although, through pity, several persons had not been punished for concealing the 
I plague, they would be visited with still severer pains in the future for any failure 
I to comply with the strict regulations. 4 As a result of the stringent measures 
which had been taken, the Town Council was able to announce on 8th October, 
[1530, that all danger was over and that there had been no appearance of any 

1 "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1528-1557," pp. 37-39. 

' Op. cit., p. 45. 

» Op. cit., 1573-1589, p- 4«6. 

4 Op. cit., 1528-1557, p. 41. 



for shipping 

and burial 

eight days 


infection for eight days past. Still they thought it was " verray profhtable " 
that the rules should be observed for a year to come. 1 

In the next few years the regulations are mainly concerned with care to keep 
out the plague, which was still prevalent in other places. Intercourse with 
Leith, where the plague was still active at the end of 1530, was forbidden. 2 
Various regulations were passed regarding cleansing. 3 Ships coming from 
Bordeaux, Spain and other places from which wine was imported, from Danzig 
especially, and from various other towns where plague was rife, were forbidden 
to come to land, and watches were set at Newhaven and Leith for the purpose 
of preventing this. The plan of dealing with these ships appears to have been 
to allow them to land their goods for a time upon one of the islands in the Forth, 
and after an interval to allow the goods to be brought into one of the ports. 4 

There seems to have been a small outbreak of plague also about 1568, when 
the sick were again isolated on the Burgh Muir. Cleansers for clothes and houses 
were appointed at a salary of eight pounds monthly, and buriers of the dead at 
five pounds each.* These were provided with a gown of grey, bearing a white 
St. Andrew's Cross on front and back, and with a staff having a white cloth on 
the end. Two biers were furnished, covered with black and carrying a bell so that 
people might be given warning of the approach of a plague-stricken corpse. 
Bodies buried in the Greyfriars churchyard were to be interred at a depth of 
seven feet. Persons wishing to visit their friends on the Muir were allowed to 
do so at eleven in the forenoon in company with the officer appointed for the day, 
but at no other time. 5 It is interesting to note that eight days were apparently 
regarded as the necessary isolation period, for there is a notice that, in 1564, 
George Younger, furrier, after being cleansed, was ordained to pass to some quiet 
house outside the town for the space of eight days and thereafter, if in good 
health, was to be allowed to resort to the town. 6 

In 1568, one of the regulations was that any person falling sick 
within the burgh, no matter what the sickness was, must, along with 
all those in the house, remain there until the Baillie of the quarter had been 
notified and his instructions received. When it was discovered that the house 
was infected with plague, the whole household with their goods were forthwith 
dispatched to the Muir, the dead buried, and the houses cleansed. 7 Wooden 

1 "Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1528-1557," p. 43. 
1 Op. cit., pp. 44 and 45. 

3 Op. cit., p. 120. 

4 Op. cit.. pp. 227 and 228. 

5 Op. cit., pp. 253-255. 
• Op. cit., p. 184. 
7 Op. cit., p. 255. 

* The salaries quoted in this chapter are given in pounds Scots, which in the 16th century 
were equivalent to about one-fifth of the value of the English pound, but, in order to obtain an 
idea of the comparative purchasing power of money in the 16th century and at the present day, 
it is necessary to multiply by ten. Accordingly a salary of eight pounds Scots per month would 
equal thirty-two shillings English, or about one shilling per day. The latter would have the 
purchasing power of about ten shillings at the present time. 


2I 3 

huts had been built for the reception of the sick on the Muir, to which they, as 
well as suspects at a later date, were immediately conveyed from the town. 

Various references are made to a Baillie being in charge of the sick folk on the 
Muir, and an official cleanser was also established here. In November, 1568, 
Jhonn Forrest was put in charge of the cleansing on the Muir, and the post was 
so responsible thai his appointment was made on terms of the pain of death 
for any fault. 1 This outbreak died out in the winter of 1569, when Jhonn Legait, 
master of the deserted Muir, was cleansed, brought home and paid. 2 On 
30th December, 1569, an announcement was made that the pest was over, and 
that all who had been sick in the hospital of the Senys Convent were to be taken 
to the Muir and cleansed/ 1 

Another outbreak of the plague took place in 1574, beginning in October 
of that year at Leith, and being present also at Kirkcaldy. The Town 
Council of Edinburgh ordained anew that any sick should go to the hospital at 
Senys, and ordered vagabonds to leave the town within -jcS hours. On 
15th November, 1574, Jhonn Forrest, cordinar (shoemaker), was again elected to 
he master cleanser of the " folkis mendit of the pest, and to haue the charge of thair 
guddis and of the tovne mure." He was to have a servant, to receive six 
pounds monthly, to keep the people under his charge isolated, clean their goods 
in sufficient manner, and to work under the ominous regulation that if any 
infection should happen afterwards through insufficient cleansing of the said 
goods, he was " to suffer the deith thairfor." 

At the same time, a more efficient method of disinfection was introduced by Disinfection 
the Town Council, who authorised their treasurer to buy a cauldron for cleansing b - v bouin g 
of the foul goods. This method of disinfection by boiling was adopted in all 
subsequent outbreaks of the plague. 4 In the following January, a house called 
" ly t ill Loundoun," on the links at Leith, was prepared for the cleansed people on 
the said links, and the house was to be watched night and day that no one should 
enter except the officers deputed by the town for the purpose. 5 This outbreak 
was over l>v iNth February, 1575, when the sick were brought back to town. 0 

Still another outbreak was threatened in the autumn of 1580, by ships coming 
from Danzig, and from Bruges and Maine, in the Low Countries. Elaborate 
rules were made as to the isolation of their crews and disinfection of their goods 
011 the islands in the Firth of Forth. 7 By the end of the year this threatened 
attack was over, and those who had been isolated on Inchkeith and Inchcolm 
were allowed to return. 8 

In the middle of 15S4, plague again threatened at Wemyss and other places 
on the north shore of the Forth. Androw Sclater and James Henry soun, 

1 " lixtracts from the Records o( the Hurgu of Edinburgh, 1557-1572." P- 256. 

' Op. cit., p. 265. 

' Op. cit., p. 267. 

4 Op. cit., i573-»589. PP- 28-30. 

' Op. cit., p. 35. 

• Op. cit., p. 36. 

; Op. cit., pp. 178-181. 

" Op. cit., pp. 189, 556 and 557- 

2I 4 



in 1585 

from sick 

chirurgeane, on 22nd July, 1584, were sent to see the conditions in Wester 
Wemyss so that the Council might take the steps necessary to avoid the pest. 
Regulations were instituted against bringing goods from Flanders, for the 
examination of persons coming ashore at Leith, and forbidding any intercourse 
with Dysart, Kirkcaldy or Wemyss. 1 

The people of Edinburgh appear to have been very charitable with 
regard to the plague - stricken poor in other places, for in August, 1584, 
a collection was made for the sick at Wemyss ; in December, for the sick 
at Perth ; and in May, 1585, the large sum of £201 was collected from the 
advocates and their servants, and £43 from the writers, on behalf of the 
sick in the latter place. 2 In October, 1584, two burgesses were sent to inspect 
the town of Dysart with regard to the occurrence of plague, and, following upon 
their report that Dysart was in need of help, the Town Council of Edinburgh sent 
them a present of food and almost one ton of soap. 3 At last, in April, 1585, 
a woman died at Edinburgh in the Fish Market Close. Despite the fact that 
all those who had been in contact with her were isolated in their house, and that 
the usual regulations for cleansing streets, preventing swine from wandering, 
etc., were enforced, two of the contacts died. The house was cleansed with 
diligence, the contacts were now transferred to a house near St. Roch's Chapel, 
but, notwithstanding, the plague broke out. 

A gibbet was set up on the Muir, apparently to form a visible reminder of the 
public health regulations. A temporary hospital consisting of wooden huts was 
set up near the Kirk of the Seynis, and five or six other shelters were built on the 
Muir. The anxiety of the Baillies was now thoroughly roused. Alexander 
Fraynche, the " clenger," was exhorted to be true and diligent in his office on the 
Muir, and he was promised, as a reward for diligent execution of his duties, a house, 
rent-free, and a pension for life. The Council also ordered Dustefute (the hangman) 
to slay all swine, dogs and cats wherever he might apprehend them. The Council 
further decided to meet every day for urgent business connected with the plague. 

The Muir appears to have been divided into two parts, the clean or west 
Muir (St. Roch's Hospital), where contacts were isolated, and the foul or east 
Muir (Sienna or Sciennes Hospital) where the sick were treated. 

The Chapel of St. Roque, or Roch (in Gaelic "Maroch"), at the bridge end of 
Stirling had been founded by James IV. in 1499, and dedicated to the "Patron of 
Pestilences." The Chapel of St. Roque on the Burgh Muir at Edinburgh was 
established by the same monarch some years later, and around it an isolation 
station, for " contacts " with the plague, was formed at various times during 
the 16th century. 4 

In 1532, the Hospital of St. Laurence, situated on the west side of the Royal 
Burgh of Haddington, was formally annexed to the Nunnery of the Sciennes. 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the liurgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589," pp. 344, 345, 346. 347 and 351. 
* Op. cit., pp. 346, 381, 418 and 419. 

3 Op. cit., pp. 358 and 360. 

4 Moir Bryce : " The burgh Muir of Edinburgh," Old Edinburgh Club, Edinburgh, 1918, Vol. X., p. 172. 



This hospital had been founded by Richard Guthrie, Abbot of the Monastery 
of St. Thomas at Arbroath, and out of the revenues a contribution had been made 
annually to the burgh leper house at Haddington. The Haddington Hospital 
was apparently closed shortly afterwards. This must have been a small hospital, 
as the annual value of its revenues did not exceed £g sterling. 1 The Hospital 
of the Sciennes was some years later used for the treatment of cases of plague. 

Although it is probable that in previous outbreaks, the town had always Plague 
consulted some of the surgeons with regard to treatment and isolation ^ c C g Cal 
regulations for the sick, the Baillies now, on 26th May, 1585, definitely appointed appointed 
James Henrysoun, chirurgeane, to take care of the sick, to visit all the hospitals 
of the burgh and the poor who were sick or hurt, whatever their sickness might be. 
He was to be at the disposal of the Council day and night, and the town was to 
furnish him with whatever "vngnents, drogs, implasteris and vther mendicaments " 
he might require. He was to have a yearly stipend of twenty pounds for life. 
Jlionn Forrest was again appointed cleanser on the clean Muir at ten pounds per 
month, with various assistants and watchmen. Leave of absence was granted 
to Robert Rollok and Uuncane Nairne, the Masters of the College, to leave the 
town, because all the students had fled through fear of the pestilence. 

Other measures taken were the erection of a gibbet on the western Muir, 
the purchase of a small kettle for disinfecting the clothes of the poor, the erection 
of a wooden shed at the Greyfriars port to keep infected goods, the housing of 
homeless children in the Chapel of St. Mary's Wynd, the raising by tax of one 
thousand pounds for the support of the sick poor, and distribution of food to 
the latter. A curious regulation was that the sale of " any sybois, leiks or 
vngyeouns " (sives, leeks or onions) was prohibited during the plague. There 
were instances of private charity, as, for example, that the tenants of the Laird of 
Inverleith in the West Port and Potterrow, who took sick, were placed on a separate 
part of the Muir at his expense. 2 Robert Fairlie of Braid also offered his house 
of " I -it till Egipt," near the Muir for any suitable use. 3 

The Council ordered a heavy bier to be employed for burying the dead on the 
Muir, and forbade that bodies should be carried upon the backs of men or on 
sledges through the laziness of the buriers. Apparently some of the officials on the 
Muir had not behaved themselves, for in July, 1585, Smythtie, " the fowle hangman," 
was ordained to be laid in irons and bound to the gibbet till further order, while 
the rest of the servants on the Muir who had not obeyed the orders of the Baillies 
were to be discharged. 

The isolation period was increased in August, 1585, to 15 days, and anyone isolation 
returning from the Muir was to remain in his house for this period before he mixed 
with the townspeople generally. All gatherings at this time, except at kirk and 
market, were forbidden, and there appears to have been a great scarcity of town 
officers and of ministers, even the Provost having absented himself from the town. 1 

1 Moir Bryce : '• The Burgh Muir of Edinburgh," Old Edinburgh Club, Edinburgh, 101S, Vol. X., p. 122. 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the burgh of Edinburgh 1573-1589." PP- 413-426- 

• Op. cit., p. 436. 

4 Op. cit., p. 43»-434- 



On 17th December, 1585, the plague had so far abated that the Council was able to 
place the infected persons in a single house (the White House), which they leased 
for a certain time. 

For further purification of suspected goods, it was ordered, in December, 15S5, 
that all such suspected of infection, even if they had been cleansed, should 
be laid out in yards or other suitable places during the time of the frost. 1 
The timber used in the lodges on the Muir was brought in next spring and 
stored in a vault of the Town's College against the outbreak of some further 
epidemic. 2 James Henrysoun, chirurgeane, was thanked for his good services, 
especially as he had contracted the plague himself and had lost his wife from 
the same cause. He was exempted from all burgh taxes for the rest of his life. 3 

Once again, in November, 1587, the pest appeared at Leith, and the usual Plague at 
regulations were adopted. The gibbets were set up in the town, a watch was kept 
on the gates to prevent the entrance of undesirable persons, and the sick were taken 
to the hospital of the Seynis. This outbreak, however, does not appear to have 
been of any great severity. 4 There were various other smaller outbreaks, as, 
for example, when in 1593 a ship from an English port, with persons suspected of 
the plague, was quarantined at Inchcolm. Again, in 1597, the pest began in 
Leith, and many persons fled from Edinburgh, but the epidemic was over by the 
end of the harvest. 5 

Aberdeen appears to have been curiously immune from the early visitations At Aberdeen 
of the plague. This may have been in large part due to the severe regulations 
which had been early introduced in 1498. From 1514 to 1546, a series of regulations 
was published by the Aberdeen Town Council which, among other things, forbade 
people to enter the town if they came from places suspected of plague. The 
" dikes " were repaired, sickness had to be reported at once, watchers were appointed 
to inspect strangers entering the town. Heggars and vagabonds were to leave the 
town immediately, and the penalty for contravention of these regulations was 
branding on the cheek. 0 

There appears to have been provision for isolation of suspected persons, for 
the Dean of Guild, in September, 1545, was authorised to disburse money for their 
sustenance. 7 The first actual case supposed to be plague occurred in March, 
154(1, when there was a notice that Alexander Scottis house was to be cleansed, 
and his brother's son to be expelled from the town and punished for concealing 
the pest, while some women who had apparently been in contact were to be sent 
to the links, and others to be shut up. 8 In December, 154b, David Spilyelaucht 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1573-1589." PP- 444 and 445. 

• Op. cit., p. 45.'. 

3 Op cit., pp. 436 and 437. 

• Op. cit., pp. 504-506. 

' Creighton : " History of Epidemics in Britain," Vol. I., p. 369. 

• " Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen," Vol. I., pp. 90, 124, 130, 165. 
' Op. cit., p. 22a. 

• Op. cit., p. 231. 


was ordained to be burned on the left hand for concealing the sickness of his child, 
and the Baillies hardened their hearts to ordain that any similar future offenders 
were to be " puneist to the deid." 1 

In 1549, it was enacted that if anyone died in a house, the household were 
to leave within 24 hours, and apparently were to take up their quarters on 
the links, where servants had to be sustained by their masters. Swine were 
ordained to be shut up and any dogs found in the streets were to be destroyed. 2 
In 1584, the fear of pest was renewed, so that similar regulations were re-enacted, 
and in May, 1585, when the plague had broken out in Edinburgh, the old regulations 
were enforced still more rigorously. 3 

In May, 1585, the magistrates had erected three gibbets, " ane at the mercat 
cross, ane other at the brig of Dee, and the third at the haven mouth, that in case 
ony infectit person arrive or repair by sea or land to this burgh, or in case ony 
indweller of this burgh receive, house, or harbour, or give meat or drink to the 
infectit person or persons, the man be hangit and the woman drownit." 4 

At this time two persons were banished for harbouring strangers without 
licence. 5 In 1597, a ^ trade with Edinburgh, Leith and Lothian, which were infected 
with the plague, was forbidden and no boat from these places was allowed to enter 
the harbour of Aberdeen. 6 By December, 1600, plague had approached as near 
as Moray, and a public fast on Sunday was ordained. The outbreak was apparently 
in the parish of Duff us. 7 Similar regulations appear now and then during 1604, 
but by December of that year the watching of the ports was to cease. 8 In 1606, 
trading with Dundee or Perth was forbidden under a penalty of £40. 9 

Occasional regulations appeared during the next half century, and in 1647, 
when the plague was at Bervie, Brechin and other places in the neighbourhood, 
an important set of regulations was introduced containing among other provisions 
a notice, which appears to be the first of its kind in Scotland, that poison was to 
be laid for mice and rats. 

At this time occurs the first mention of a definite outbreak of plague, 
when a woman coming from Brechin occasioned plague in Petmuckstoun, of 
which two people died. 10 In 1649, Patrik Watsone, the constable, appears 
to have committed a great breach of trust, for he had concealed a sick person in 
his house, and he was condemned not only to stand on market day shackled to 
the scaffold, but to pay the large fine of 200 merks. 11 

1 " Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen," Vol. I., p. 246. 

2 Op. cit„ p. 273. 

• Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 56. 

' Creighton : " History of Epidemics in Britain," Vol. I., p. 371. 

' " Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen," Vol. II., p. 57. 

c Op. cit., p. 154. 

' " Records of Elgin," Vol. I., p. 86. 

" " Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen," Vol. II., p. 265. 

• Op. cit., p. 287. 

10 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Aberdeen," pp. 81-83. 

1 1 Op. cit., p. 94. 



There is a notice from Elgin in 1545 that George Cruksank has been suspended Plague at 
from trade because he had returned from Aberdeen, where the plague is, and Elgin 
occasional preventive regulations were made by the Baillies of Elgin up to 1665, 
when a fast day was proclaimed because of the plague in England. 1 

Numerous references to plague in the Burgh of Stirling occur from 1545 At Stirling 
onwards. These refer especially to the plague in Edinburgh and Leith, but, in 1549, 
James Hall was convicted for failing to notify plague in his servant and turning 
out his goods. 2 In 1601, a visitor was appointed to go to Glasgow and report 
on the state of plague in that city. 3 Again, in the early part of the 17th century, 
restrictions were imposed upon intercourse with Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Kirkcaldy, 
Kinghorn and Torryburne. 4 

In 160b, the plague was definitely present in Stirling, and £48 was given to 
the treasurer for material to make lodgings for the sick in the Brighauch. 5 
In 1007, the Baillies drew up a list of all those who had had the plague, and cleaners 
who had come from Edinburgh, Linlithgow and Leith were paid. 6 Several 
references to restrictions against plague occur in the early half of the 17th century, 
ending up, in 1665, with the prohibition against the admission of goods from 
England because of the plague in London. 7 

At Peebles, the plague had broken out in 1605, and all sickness was ordained At Peebles 
to be notified to the Baillies under pain of death. 8 In 1645, a man from Edinburgh 
was ordained to remain with his family behind locked doors in his " barne " till 
the infection was over, under pain of £500 Scots, and two families from infected 
houses were to be put on the " Grene." 9 Again, in 1665, there was a prohibition 
of trade with England. 10 

In Lanark there is a notice of plague in 1570, but there does not appear to At Lanark 
have been any resident doctor, for in this year an allowance of $s. is made 
" to the doctor that the minister brocht," as well as an item of " tua merkis 
allouet to him for fouir Monondayis custum in tyme of the pest." 11 In 1604, 
the Baillies were again active in the prevention of plague, specially as regarded 
its possible importation from Edinburgh. Jhon Broun, for admitting inhabitants 
of Edinburgh to the burgh was fined 40s., and Jhon Ryd was adjudged " to be 
wardit " on his return from Edinburgh because he went to a suspect place 
without leave. 12 

I " The Records of Elgin," Vol. I., pp. 86, 117, 176, 177 ; Vol. II., pp. 84, 86, 90, 123, 260, 304. 

• " Extracts from the Records of the Royal Burgh of Stirling," p. 56. 

3 Op. cit., p. 100. 

4 Op. cit., p. 113. 

• Op. cit., p. 114. 

« Op. cit., pp. 115, 117. 
' Op. cit., p. 249. 

" " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Peebles," p. 357. 

• Op. cit., pp. 379 and 380. 
1 0 Op. cit., p. 398. 

II " Extracts from the Records of the Royal Burgh of Lanark," p. 51. 
" Op. cit., p. 1 10. 



At a later date the charter of the masons and wrights was ordered to be 
cleansed because it had been in the hands of James Glen, who died with all his 
family of plague in 1645. 1 It is unfortunate that the disinfectant used for this 
document is not specified. 

At Glasgow Glasgow does not seem to have been troubled early by the plague, but in 

1574, the magistrates ordained that no one from Leith, Kirkcaldy, Dysart, Burn- 
tisland, or other suspected place, was to enter or trade with the town. Intercourse 
with Edinburgh was prohibited under pain of £10, and watchers of the brig, water 
and gates were appointed. 2 In 1584, as the plague was increasing in Fife, similar 
regulations were made against intercourse with this county, and in 1588, as pest 
was present in Paisley, this town was banned under pain of £5. 3 In 1588, it 
was reported that the plague was increasing in Paisley, 4 and, in 1605, a penalty 
of £20 was imposed upon anyone who received people from Lanark, Peebles, 
Peddert, Leith or Linlithgow. 5 

In August, 1605, it was reported that plague was increasing in Edinburgh, 
and strangers from this place were banned under pain of £20 hne and 
banishment." In 1606, two cases of plague were notified in Glasgow. 7 An order 
was issued that beggars should leave the town, and that dogs and cats 
should be shut in, while £100 was voted to the poor shut up at the Muir for 
the plague. 8 In 1608, a statute was issued against going to Dundee, Perth 
and the coast places in Fife, and, in 1624, Edinburgh was declared to be infected 
by the plague. 9 

In 1625, the inhabitants of Glasgow were forbidden to go to England without 
informing the Baillies, and from 1644 to 1666 there were numerous provisions for 
dealing with the disease. 10 Among these, quartermasters were elected to search 
out sick persons, visiting of the Muir where the sick were kept was forbidden, and 
various doctors were appointed to visit the sick poor. Thus, Dr. M'Cluir was 
appointed in 1647 " to attend the visitatioune of the toun for ane monethe to come, 
and to geive him ten dollouris for bygaine service to incuradge him," and later in 
the same year, £40 was given to John Hall for visiting those dead of the pestilence. 11 

In 1648, the pestilence was still increasing, and there was voted " 100 merks 
to Johne Hall, chirurgeon, for his service in attending the magistrates at all times 
anent the pestilence," and on 2nd October of this year, "£40 to Johne Hall 
in complete payment of his services." 12 Finally, in 1665, measures were 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Royal Burgh of Lanark," p. iy6. 

s " Iixtracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow," Vol. I., p. 27. 

' Op. cit., pp. no, 118. 

4 Op. cit., p. 119. 

s Op. cit., p. 227. 

" Op. cit., p. 231. 

' Op. cit., p. 254. 

" Op. cit., p. 255. 

• Op. cit., pp. 294, 344. 

10 Op. cit., p. 348 ; Vol. II., pp. 74, 101, 113, 119, 123, 144, 145, 147 ; Vol. Ill , p. 01. 

1 1 Op. cit., Vol. II., pp. 119, 123. 
11 Op. cit., p. 147. 


~ 1 I 

taken for the prevention of pestilence from England, and in e666 it was 
ordained that all goods lately brought from Jedburgh and thereabout should 
be publicly burned. 1 

At Paisley the Baillies declared, in 1604, that the pest was drawing near, and At Paisley 
forbade the inhabitants to go beyond the sheriffdom of Renfrew. Anyone entering 
the burgh by back ways was to be fined £5? The walls of waste lands near the 
gates were to be built up and covered with thorns so that none might climb over. 
The watchers at the east and west gates were to be provided with a sword and 
Jedburgh staff, and fugitives from Glasgow were to be excluded till they had been 
away from that town for six weeks. 3 

It is surprising that in their regulations against dogs and swine and dirt in 
the streets, and the chance of infection by persons coming to the town, the Baillies 
of Edinburgh did not suspect the rats as a possible cause of plague. The black 
rat which brought plague into Europe from the East in the 14th century 
had reached Scotland before the 16th century, and was plentiful in many 
places throughout the country. 

A curious fact, which may explain the comparative immunity of the 
northern city from the plague, is that rats were unable to subsist in Aberdeen. 
Bishop Leslie, in 157ft, records in regard to Aberdeenshire : " In this 
cunt rey na Rattoune is bred, or, brocht in frome ony vthir place, thair 
may lyue [live]." A similar fact is recorded in the 17th century with 
regard to Sutherlandshire, and in Liddesdale the same tradition was long 
preserved. 4 In any case, the Baillies of Aberdeen had the merit of being the 
first to ordain, in i<>47, that poison should be laid down for rats and mice. 5 

From 1603 to 1609, plague was present in one place or another throughout 
Scotland, but there was no serious epidemic. In 1644, it again appeared 
in Edinburgh, Kelso, Bo'ness, Perth and other places. At Edinburgh the 
plague-stricken were housed in huts in the King's Park below Salisbury Crags, 
and at Perth the epidemic is said to have given rise to the story of Bessie Bell and 
Mary Gray, who fled from the plague-stricken city and " biggit a bower on 
yon burn brae, and theekit it ower wi' rashes." 6 At Glasgow, the infection 
was severe from 1645 to 1648, but this year is the last in which plague 
is heard of in Scotland. 7 

1 " Kxtrai ts from the Record* of the Burgh of Glasgow," Vol. III., pp. 61, 67. 
1 " Extracts from the Records of the Town Council of Paisley," p. 268. 

* Op. cit., p. 248. 

1 Kite hie : " Animal Life in Scotland," p. 426 ; a/so Leslie : " Historic of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1888, p. 47. 
1 " Extracts from the Records of tht Burgh of Aberdeen," pp. 81-83. 

* Chambers : " Domestic Annals of Scotland," Vol. II., pp. 166 and 167. 
' Creighton : " History of Epidemics in Britain," Vol. I., p. 563. 

Chapter X 

General and Military Practice in the 
Seventeenth Century 

During the 17th century Scotland was an extremely poor country. The State of 

southern and more wealthy part had been wasted by the English Wars in the Sc °t lami in 

, , ° 17th centurv 

middle of the 16th century, by the plague, and by the internal political troubles 

associated with the period of the Reformation. About the middle of the 

17th century, the country was still further impoverished by the Civil Wars, the 

efforts made in 1650 on behalf of Prince Charles, and the great fines subsequently 

imposed by Cromwell. The 17th century accordingly was one which showed 

only a very gradual development in medicine. 

Opportunities for medical education were few, and means of transport were 
extremely bad and slow, so that it was difficult for medical practitioners to travel 
any great distance to see patients, except in the case of the wealthy, or, indeed, to 
subsist at all in country places. With the exception of a few roads between the 
principal towns, there were no routes over which wheeled vehicles could pass, and 
such roads as existed were of very poor quality. Communication in country districts 
was carried out entirely on foot or horseback. Even carts were not introduced 
till late in the 17th centurv, and merchandise was transported on rough sledges 
or by horse panniers. Horse litters also had been used from early times by wealthy 
and sickly people. 

So late as 1658, a stage-coach passed between London and Edinburgh only once Few means 
in three weeks. 1 Two places so near as Edinburgh and Haddington were connected °ation" mUm 
by stage-coach only twice weekly in the year 1678, while the first stage-coaches 
between Edinburgh and Glasgow were set up in this year, subsidised by the 
municipalities, and even so, were unsuccessful. A traveller in Scotland, in 1688, 
says that there were then no stage-coaches, although the great men of the country 
often travelled by a coach and six, exercising great caution, with a footman 

1 Chambers : " Domestic Annals of Scotland," 1858, Vol. II., p. 247. 

Iii this and following chapters dealing with the 17th century, salaries and other payments 
are quoted in pounds Scots unless otherwise stated. The Scottish coinage had depreciated 
rapidly as against English sterling towards the end of the 16th century. In 1554, a 
judgment by the Lords of Session had fixed £381 15s. Scots as equivalent to £76 7s. English, 
that is, Scots coinage was one-fifth the value of English coinage. By 1580, Scots coinage was 
about one-eighth the value of English, and by 1600 it had fallen to one-twelfth, where it 
remained. During the 17th century, therefore, the Scots pound was equal to is. 8rf. English. 
With regard to purchasing power, however, actual living in food and clothing was cheap in 
Scotland, but Continental commodities would have to be paid for in sterling. 



running on each side. Letters were carried by foot-post and carriers, and so late 
as 1749, communication between Edinburgh and Glasgow (now occupying sixty-five 
minutes) was effected twice in the week by a covered spring-cart, which took a day 
and a half on the journey. 1 In 1716, a traveller proceeding from Edinburgh to 
Ross-shire got as far as Queensferry in a coach and then had to proceed on 
horseback, taking six days to cover 170 miles. 2 

liven in 1740, Lord Lovat, having occasion to travel from Inverness to 
Edinburgh with his two daughters, had to carry a wheelwright with him 
in order to repair his coach on the journey, which occupied twelve days, and was 
attended by numerous accidents. 3 The famous roads through the Highlands, 
begun by General Wade in 1726 (the year in which the Medical Eaculty 
at Edinburgh was founded), did much to accelerate communication between 
certain places, but only 260 miles of road were affected, and these were not 
finished until late in the century. 

Inns, too, were of late development in Scotland. Fynes Moryson, a 
gentleman who made a tour in Scotland about the year 1598, and published his 
" Itinerary " in 1617, stated that there were no inns as in England, but in all 
places some houses were known where passengers might have meat and lodging. 
He, however, records the great hospitality with which he met. 4 This isolation 
had a paralysing effect upon all attempts to improve medical practice or 
better the practitioner's knowledge. 

Few country As an example of the sparseness of medical practitioners in country districts, 
practitioners it } s said that there was Qnly 

one medical man on the main road for 50 miles 
north of Aberdeen at the beginning of the 18th century, Dr. Beattie, in the 
Garioch. " In his later days he used to be seen, visiting patients, mounted on 
a shaggy pony. His professional dress was a greatcoat, so frayed by time 
and weather that its original colour was undiscernible, and he wore a 
yellow wig." 5 

In the absence of local medical practitioners, it was necessary that the 
clergyman and the laird should know something about medicine, and they had 
often picked up some rudiments of this during their college course. In the 
case of the wealthy, physicians and surgeons were frequently brought from 
a long distance to attend during an illness, while the great nobles and the 
Highland chiefs had their private medical attendants, who could give assistance 
to the poor retainers of their patrons. 

Drugs An indication of the drugs imported into Scotland in the early part of the 

expensive ijfa century is afforded by a book of the rates of customs and valuation of 
merchandises imported into Scotland in the year 1612. 6 The list contains 

1 Chambers: " Domestic Annals of Scotland," Vol. II., p. 393. 

1 Chambers: Op. cit.. Vol. III., p. 407. 

1 Miscellany of the Spalding Club, Vol. II., p. 5. 

4 Chambers : " Domestic Annals of Scotland," Vol. I., p. 299. 

5 E. H. B. Rodger : " Aberdeen Doctors," 1893, p. 25. 

" " Ledger of Andrew Halyburton, 1492- 1503," Edinburgh, 1867, p. 297. 



the names of over 220 different medicinal and chemical substances, of which 
about a fourth are still to he found in the British Pharmacopoeia. The list 
includes a considerable number of medicinal metals and salts. 

The prices of drugs must have been considerable, judging from the high rate of 
duty imposed upon them. For example, aloes had to pay 24s. per pound weight, 
opium £8, petroleum 20s., sulphur 8s., benzoin £4, cardamoms 30s., mix vomica 6s. 
and senna 27s. The list includes numerous remedies which are not now employed, 
such as oil of scorpions, mummy (upon which the duty was only 8s. per pound), 
and a resin known as dragons' blood. The surgical instruments listed are four in 
number — bullett scrives, incisioun sehearis, turcasses and tripans. The duty payable 
for a trepan was 30s. 

The skill of the Edinburgh surgeons was apparently considered greater than High repute 

that of those in Dundee, which was in the 17th century the second town in Scotland °f I'-'l'nburgh 

• o. ■l • • surgeons 

for in 1614, Alex. Smyt brought an action against Jon Fordvce, chirurgian, of 

Dundee, who had undertaken to cure a wound in the left arm of Martha Chalmeris, 

spouse of Smyt. At the end of the cure the arm was " so impotent and mutilate " 

that it hung down and could not be lifted to her head. She had consequently 

been taken to Edinburgh, where James Skaithmure, one of the principal surgeons 

there, had not only healed and cured the arm, but had in a rather unprofessional 

maimer " declaryit that the said Jon haed not rytlie understuid the said hurt and 

haed putt the same in worss estate." Jon Fordyce was, however, absolved by 

the Dundee magistrates from the consequences of the action, and received a fee 

for his part of the cure amounting to £40 money, with a boll of wheat and two 

bolls of meal. 

There are other entries in the court books of Dundee showing that Jon A Dundee 
Fordyce received on other occasions the respectable fees of £5 for a broken leg, sur g eon 
£10 for a " grit wound " in the left hand, and £20 for a broken thigh. 1 

A considerable amount of information in regard to medical practice in Fife- Medical 
shire is obtained from the diary of Mr. John Lamont of Newton, covering the years j 0 ^f 
jl.640. to 1671. 2 The diarist set down from time to time, and often from day to day, Lamont's 
notes of occurrences, sometimes of national importance, and sometimes concerned diar y 
with local events. He chronicles the deaths of many important people in Fifeshire, 
mentions such matters as the texts of sermons he has heard, describes in great detail 
fhc. intimate affairs of his neighbours, such as the prices they paid for their houses, 
and records scandals in regard to them with complete natvetf. 

At the time with which he deals, each of the towns in Fifeshire appears to 
have been provided with its physician or apothecary, who had either served an 
apprenticeship or sometimes held an Ml), degree from some foreign university. 
[The minister and Kirk Session exercised a great amount of power over social 
affairs, and in 1650 the Kirk Session of Largo, becoming dissatisfied with the practice 

1 Buist : " Dundee Doctors in the Sixteenth Century," Edinburgh Medical Journal, June, 1930. 
1 Lamont : " The Diary, 1649-1671," Maitland Club, Edinburgh, r830. 



in Fife 



A country 

of an Englishman named Hollande, who was settled in the place, took the 
high-handed action of intimating an excommunication against this Hollande 
" wha gaue him selfe foourth to he a phesitian, he being onlie ane impostor 
and deceauer, that the people might not haue any dealing with him in the 
meater of physicke." 1 

Among the diseases which are mentioned from time to time as being frequent, 
are the Irish Aygo " which was a terrible sore paine of the head, some saying that 
ther heads did open." This was very rife about 1650 in the parishes near Largo, 
and was probably what we should call influenza. 2 Purpie fever is mentioned 
from time to time as occurring in small epidemics, and was a very fatal malady — 
probably tvphus fever. James Lundy died in 1664 of a cancer in his throat as 
was supposed ; " for about 3 monthes before his death, he could eate no bread, 
because of the straitnes of the passage in his craige." 3 

The cruells, which apparently was scrofula, is mentioned several times : thus, 
Eupham Lundy died of this disease in her knee after an issue which ran for some 
years. 4 In 1660, Lady Wemyss took her daughter, the Lady Buccleuch, "who 
had the Cruells in hir armc," up to London to be touched by his Majesty King 
Charles II. 5 As this was done on June 18th, twenty days after the king had 
entered London at the Restoration, it was probably the first case of scrofula treated 
by this king, who afterwards made " touching " for scrofula a kind of religious 
ceremony, and dealt with many thousands of sick persons in this way. 

The case is mentioned of the son of Dr. Bethun, a physician practising at 
Perth, who had come to reside near Cupar in 1663 ; this youth, about 16 or 17 
years of age, died suddenly of a stoppage of the bowels, and on a post-mortem 
examination being carried out by Mr. James Callendar, the local apothecary, 
there were found impacted together three lumps, fleshy without and like a stone 
within, and in each of them a plum stone, the boy having had the habit, in 
eating plums when he was a child, to swallow the stone ; the father professed 
that he had never seen the like ever since he had any insight in physic. 6 

The social status of medical practitioners is sufficiently indicated by several 
facts which the diarist mentions in regard to John Gourlay, John Makgill and some 
others. John Gourlay was second son of the Laird of Kincraig, and, in 1654, wen' 
to Edinburgh to be bound prentice to Patrick Hebron, potingar (apothecary), 
that city. 7 His apprenticeship apparently lasted three years, for, in the en 
of 1657, he accompanied the Earl of Wemyss to London with the object of 
completing his studies. Erom London he went to France, and about one yea J 
later returned to Kincraig. 8 He settled in Elie as a potingar, and there, in 1660 

1 Lamont : " The Diary, 1649-1671,' 

2 Lamont : Op. cit., p. 20. 

' Lamont : Op. cit., p. 171. 
* Lamont : Op. cit., p. 171. 
s Lamont : Op. cit., p. 112. 
' Lamont : Op. cit., p. 167. 
' Lamont : Op. cit., p. 81. 
8 Lamont : Op. cit., p. 103. 

Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1830, p. 21 



married Margret Sharpe, second daughter of the deceased Dr. Sharpe of Edinburgh. 3 
She was sister to the wife of the minister in Elie, which probably accounts 
for the fact that the said John appears somewhat easily to have made satisfaction 
to the church for irregularity of life since he settled in the place. 

Some of his cases were treated in co-operation with Dr. Martin, who 
practised at Pittenweem, and who, as we learn from the candour (if the diarist, 
was also a person showing considerable levity of conduct. In 1662, Dr. Martin 
and John Gourlay embalmed the body of the young Earl of Balcarrcs. It is noted 
that he was a boy of 10 or 12 years old and that in his heart, after death, 
was found a notched stone of the bigness of one's five fingers (possibly calcified 
lericarditis) . 2 

In the same year these two practitioners had a difficult and unsuccessful case : A fatal bite 
the mother of Johne Taite, gardener, in Balcarres, was bitten through the arm by 
a puggy (monkey) ; the wound bled so that it could not be stemmed by Dr. Martin 
and John (iourlay, and she died within a few days. 3 Whatever their skill 
as physicians may have been, surely they cannot have been very capable 
anatomists and surgeons ! 

In 16(14, John (iourlay had a large account for drugs, attendance and bowling 
(embalming) of John Lundy, laird of that ilk. The laird had had a long illness 
and had also been attended by other doctors of neighbouring towns, for 
Drs. Cuninghame, Sidscrfe and Martin received respectively 28, 20 and 
23 dollars, and Mr. G. Pittillocke 20 dollars for attendance, while the account of 
Gideon Sword for " droggs " amounted to £16 or thereby. 4 

John (iourlay died suddenly in 1667, at his house in Elie, and it is distinctly An issue in 
hinted by the diarist that his death was in the nature of a judgment upon him the le S 
for his action one week previously in the sheriff court at Cupar in regard to a fee 
of £115 Scots incurred by Bessy Barclay of Largo. 5 (iourlay, along with Mr. Arthwr, 
apothecary in Wemyss, and John Bett in Elie, the apprentice of Gourlay, had 
treated the leg of Bessy Barclay, promising that he would take nothing unless 
the leg was completely cured. A new issue had been made at the ankle, and the 
leg, it was alleged, was no better, but worse. The medical attendants also affirmed 
on oath that for the space of seven weeks one of them was at Largo every day to 
attend the leg, whereas the said Bessy acknowledged that they came frequently 
but not every day. Throughout the notes of the diarist in regard to Gourlay, there 
is traceable a strong undercurrent of disapproval. 

Another practitioner of the district was Mr. John Makgill, M.D., who was at John 

first minister of Dinbougge, transferred in 1654 to the important charge of Cupar, Snifter and 

After he had been nine years at Cupar, political changes introduced the episcopal doctor 
form of church discipline. To this Makgill would not submit, and accordingly 

1 Lamont : " The Diary, 1649-1671," Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1830, p. tzg. 

' Lamont : Op. cit., p. 156. 

3 Lamont : Op. cit., p. 154. 

4 Lamont : Op. cit., p. 175. 
6 Lamont : Op. cit., p. 202. 



" he was lowsed from his chairge." In February, 1663, determining to betake 
himself to medicine, he accompanied the Earl of Leven to London, and afterwards 
passed over to France. He must have been a man of parts, for about Lammas 
(August), 1663, after barely six months' absence, he returned from France, 
having graduated doctor of physic. As indicative of the outward appearance 
of the doctor and the minister respectively in the 17th century, it is recorded 
that " he came home in a gray sute, bot went abroad in black apparell." 1 

Medical practice among his former parishioners evidently proved eminently 
successful, for in 1667 he was able to purchase the lands of Kembock at a cost of 
25,000 merks Scots (nearly £1400 sterling), 2 which was worth the annual income 
of 1400 merks. In 1668, it is briefly recorded that " Mr. John Makgill, 
of Kembock in Fyffe, maried the old Lady Vnthanke ; the mariage feast 
stood att Vnthanke." 

Dr. Balfour was physician at Laleathin in Fife, and died in 1665. Andro 
Sword, who was apothecary in St. Andrews and son of the provost of that town, 
died in 1667 in an epidemic of purpie fever. Dr. Sydserf, who was practising as 
a physician in 1658, was a son of Bishop Sydserf of Brechin. 

Quackery Flagrant quackery was common in Scotland during the 17th century, and 

rampant ^ e f 0 rk-medicine which had been handed down by tradition among the common 
people was, in many cases, quite as futile as the nostrums sold by the quacks. 
The two following instances give an idea of the blatant fashion in which it was 
possible for travelling mountebanks to practise at this time. 

Lamont, in his diary, under the date December, 1662, describes a mountebank 
John Ponthus, who practised chiefly in Fifeshire, but who also obtained sanction 
to set up his stage from time to time in the larger cities : — 

" Ponteus, the montebancke, was now the thrid tyme in Scotland, viz. 
1. in Anno 1633 ; 2. in An. 1643 ; and now in An. 1662 and 1663. Euery 
tyme he had his publicke stage erected, and sold theron his droggs to the peopell : 
the first tyme for 1 lib., the 2. tyme for 1 lib. gs., the thrid for 18 pence. Each 
tyme he had his peopell that played on the scaffold, ane ay playing the foole, 
and ane other by leaping and dancing on the rope, etc. The two last tymes 
he was hire, both his printed peapers and his droggs were one and that same. 
The last tyme he was hire, he was att Edb. 3 Stirling, Glasgow, Perth, Cuper 
of Fyfe, and St. Andrews, and in the end of Dec. and the two pairt of Januar 
1663, he had his stage, at one and the same tyme, at Cuper and St. Andrews, 
viz., at St. Androws on Moneday and Saterday, and att Cuper on Tuesday, 
Wedens. and Thursday." 

1 Lamont : " The Diary, 1649-1671," Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1830, p. 160. 
a Lamont : Op. cit., p. 199. 

3 " Grants libertie to Jon Ponthus, professor of physick, to build a stage doun about Black freir wynd head, for pnblict 

view, they acting no obscene thing to give offence." Records of Edinburgh, 5th June, 1663. 
1 Lamont : " The Diary, 1649-1671," Maitland Club, Edinburgh, 1830, p. 158. 



The following notice probably refers to Cornelius a-Tilbourne, whose appearance 
Edinburgh is mentioned on page 261. 

" About the same tyme, ther was ane other montebancke, a High German, 
that came to this kingdome, that had the like sports and commodities for to 
gaine money. He was att Edb. in likcmaner twyse ; as also att Aberdeine 
and Dundie ; he likewyse had the leaping and flying rope ; viz., comeing downe 
ane high tow, and his head althe way downeward, his armes and feite holden 
out all the tyme ; and this he did diuers tymes in one afternoone." 1 

In a higher grade of society than those who were duped by the mountebanks, 
who practised the folk-medicine of their ancestors, recourse was had to the 

apothecaries and physicians found in the towns. 
In country places, especially in the north of 
Scotland, access to these was impossible because 
of the difficulties of transit that have been 
described. Moreover, the general character and 
attainments of many such practitioners did not 
inspire great confidence among the people in their 
immediate vicinity. It was natural, therefore, 
that medicines which were found to be effective 
obtained a great reputation, and could be sold 
at a high price by persons holding the secret of 
>^ >lWIillHMBilf WSk I tne ' r composition. 
^^^^^Jf^^^MmiK^^ff ^ n m teresting proprietary remedy of this Anderson's 
1 ^^^^K ^^^^ ^^W^ kind, introduced early in the 17th century, was P llls 
^^^^^^^^/^^ Anderson's Scots Pills. Dr. Patrick Anderson was 
" a physician of considerable reputation who prac- 
tised at Edinburgh, London and Paris, and in a little 
book called "Grana Angelica," which he published 
in 1635, regarding the virtues of the pills, he speaks of having got the receipt for them 
in Venice about 1603. He is described in one of his books as physician to Charles I., 
and this king caused Anderson's portrait to be painted by Van Dyck. 

The pills enjoyed a great repute in the 17th century; indeed, several men, 
who were early principals and regents in the Town's College at Edinburgh, wrote 
elegant l atin verses on their usefulness, which Anderson published at the beginning 
f |r of his " Grana Angelica." A couplet by John Adamson, who was principal of 
the University in 1623, runs as follows : — 

" Angclice quicunque volet producere vitam, 
Grana Andersoni comparet Angelica." 

These pills were widely used for 300 years, and were still on sale in the 
year 1910. 2 Chambers, writing in the year 1824, says : " As is well known, 



1 Lamont : "The Diary. 1649-1671," Maitland Club. Edinburgh, 1830, p. 159. 

• Anderson : " Grana Angelica," Edinburgh, 1635 ; and Wuotton : " Chronicles of Pharmacy," London, 
Vol. II., p. 168. 



the country people in Scotland have to this day a peculiar reverence for these pills, 
which are, I believe, really a good form of aloetic medicine," and he mentions that 
in his time they were on sale on the second floor of a tenement in the Lawn Market, 
dated on the lintel 1690, where portraits of Anderson and his daughter were 
preserved — " the physician in a Vandyke dress, with a book in his hand ; the 
lady, a precise-looking dame, with a pill in her hand about the size of a walnut, 
saying a good deal for the stomachs of our ancestors. The people also show a 
glove which belonged to the learned physician." 1 

Gideon Elliot 

(Original portrait in the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh) 

After Anderson's death, the pills were sold in Edinburgh by his daughter, 
Miss Catherine Anderson, who communicated the secret to Thomas Weir, 
a surgeon in Edinburgh. Subsequently by a regular series of assignations, they 
came down to a firm of Edinburgh chemists who were still selling them in 1910. 
Another branch of the family in London, through James Inglish and his descendants, 
continued the manufacture, and the writer has seen the original receipt for the pills, 
which was in the possession of Mr. Michael Duke. The pills originally contained 

Chambers : " Traditions of Edinburgh," Edinburgh and London, 1912, p. 27. 



some 40 ingredients, and, by various processes of mixing, steeping, boiling, 
straining, etc., their preparation took four days to accomplish. They arc represented 
in most of the official pharmacopoeias of the present day, the pilula aloes et myrrhce 
of the British Pharmacopoeia containing their essential ingredients. 

An indication of professional fees charged at the end of the 17th century may Professional 
be gained from two examples. In 1689, Dr. David Mitchell, of Edinburgh, under fees 
sanction of the Privy Council, undertook the charge of Alexander Irvine, of 
Drum, in Aberdeenshire, a mentally defective person. He hired some additional 
rooms and made the necessary furnishings, thus establishing one of the first 
nursing-homes on record. After one month, however, with Dr. Mitchell, the Laird 
of Drum was persuaded by Marjory Forbes to marry her, and left his medical 
protector. Dr. Mitchell was allowed by the Lords of the Privy Council a sum 
of £500 Scots, or £41 13s. A,d., in addition to twenty pieces for a professional visit 
to the laird in Aberdeenshire. 1 

The Earl of Home, in 1695, was placed under arrest and ordered to repair 
to Edinburgh Castle. As he represented his indisposition of body to be such 
that this was impossible, the Privy Council ordered Sir Thomas Burnet, the king's 
physician, and Gideon Elliot, chirurgeon, to proceed to the Hirsel in Berwickshire 
and report upon the Earl's state of health. The doctor and surgeon reported 
in such terms that the Earl was allowed to remain at his house, the Hirsel, and for 
their pains in travelling 50 miles and back and giving this medical report, 
Dr. Burnet was allowed 200 merks (£11 2s. 2d.), and Mr. Gideon Elliot 100 merks 
(£5 11s. id.).- The relative importance of the physician and surgeon towards 
the end of the 17th century may thus be estimated. 

Military Medicine and Surgery 

Scottish military surgeons, during the 17th century, appear to have occupied Military 
a position of good standing and to have been well paid. In 1644, four surgeons thc^'cotY" 
were appointed to the army, each to have charge of two regiments forming a army 
brigade in the army sent into England. Each of these was provided with two 
surgeon's mates. The names of the surgeons were David Kenncdie, James Ker, 
Thomas Kincaid and Nehemiaeh Touche. Each of the surgeons received an 
allowance of £15 for furnishing his " kist." The pay was at the rate of 5s. daily 
for a surgeon, and 4s. for his two mates, with an additional allowance of 
3s. daily for their three riding horses, and 2s. 6d. for two baggage horses to 
carry their equipment. 3 In 1646, the pay was raised so that the surgeons, of 
whom one was now allowed to each regiment, received 20s. daily, this being the 
same rate as that for a Lieutenant of Foot and an Ensign of Dragoons. 4 

In 1649, when the Scottish army was being re-formed in Perth and the 
neighbourhood, a generous scale of allowances was sanctioned, and the army 
appears to have been well equipped, although it met with disaster at Worcester 

1 Chambers : " Domestic Annals of Scotland," Vol. III., p. 22. 

» Chambers: Op. cit., Vol. Ill, p. ii7- 

* "Acts of the Scottish Parliament," Vol. VI., i, p. 74- 

4 Op. cit., p. 620. 



two years later. Among its general officers were two surgeons-general, each 
of whom was promised £40 per month. It may be mentioned in passing that 
each of eight ministers, similarly classed as generals, received £66 13s. 4^. monthly, 
while the army, which set out with high hopes for a premature Restoration, included 
a "writer of the History of the Times," at a salary of £200 per month. 1 

Richard Wiseman (1 622- 1 676) 
(From the original in The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum) 

During the 17th century, surgery appears to have been of a rough and ready 
type, although no doubt gradual progress was made. Most of the foundation 
hospitals which had existed before the Reformation had fallen into neglect, or their 
buildings and revenues had been appropriated by the proprietors of neighbouring 
lands, or by persons possessing sufficient influence with the reforming powers ; and 
the voluntary hospital movement of the 18th century had not yet begun. There were 
thus few facilities available for surgeons who wished to improve their methods. 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," Vol. VI., ii, p. 448. 



As an illustration of surgical practice at its best, a few quotations may be Richard 
given from Richard Wiseman, " the father of English surgery." Wiseman Wiseman 
accompanied Prince Charles (later Charles II.), from Holland to Scotland in 1650, as 
his medical attendant and surgeon to his troops, and took part in the operations 
against Cromwell, which ended with the battle of Worcester. He practised for 
about a year in Stirling and Perth, for, after the disaster at Dunbar, Charles 
was still left with a royalist army in the neighbourhood of Perth. 

Speaking of the type of wounds with which surgeons then had to deal, and 
which were found in the Covenanters who had managed to escape from 
Cromwell's horsemen at Dunbar, Wiseman says :— 

" I shall now consider of Wounds with losse of Substance made bv Bill, incised 
Pole-axe, Sword, etc., some cutting twice or thrice in one or near one wounds 
place, whereby the Wound is large, transverse, yea and oblique, at the same 
time, and the Lips contracted various ways, and so the Cure is rendred much 
more difficult. These kind of Wounds are not so often seen in times of Peace, 
but in the Wars they are frequent, especially when the Horse-men fall in 
amongst the Infantry, and cruelly hack them ; the poor Souldiers the while 
sheltering their Heads with their Arms, sometime with the one, then the other, 
until they be both most cruelly mangled: and yet the Head fareth little the 
better the while for their Defence, many of them not escaping with lesse than 
two or three Wounds through the Scull to the Membranes, and often into the 
Brain. And if the man fly, and the Enemy pursue, his Hinder parts meet 
with great Wounds, as over the Thighs, Back, Shoulders and Neck. . . . 
At Sterling in Scotland Mr. John Chase, Apothecary to his Majesty, helped 
me in the like work. One of the Souldiers had such a gash thwart the Nape 
of his Neck, that it was a wonder to us he lived. His Wound was full of 
Maggots ; and so were those of all the rest that were inflicted on the Hinder 
parts, they having been some days undrest." 1 

In discussing wounds of the brain, Wiseman gives, among others, the following Wound of 
instance of success following trephining. The servant maid must have been tllc brain 
a hardy lass, to be able to attend him daily as an out-patient after a trephine 
opening had been made in her skull. The Mr. Penycuke, whom Wiseman 
mentions, was Alexander Pennycuik, who entered the Edinburgh Incorporation 
of Surgeons and Barbers in the year 1640. His father was the Laird of 
Pennycuik, and Alexander sold this estate and bought Newhali in Midlothian. 
He had been surgeon to General Banner in the Thirty Years' War, and was, at 
the time of his connection with Wiseman, surgeon-general to the Scottish troops. 
(See also Chapter XI, page 249). 

" At Sterling Mr. John Chase was present when a poor Servant-maid came 
to me to be drest of a Wound she had received on her Head by a Musket- 
shot, in the taking of Calendar-House by the Enemy. There was a Fracture 

1 Wiseman : " Severall Chirurgicall Treatises," London, 1676, p. 34S. 



with a Depression of the Scull. I set on a Trepan for the elevation of the 
deprest Bone, and for discharge of the Sanies. She had laboured under this 
Fracture at least a week before she came to me, yet had none of those Symptoms 
aforementioned. But after Perforation, and raising up this deprest Bone, and 
dressing her Wound, she went her way and came daily thither to be drest, as if it 
had been onely a simple Wound of the Hairy scalp. Mr. Penycuke, an eminent 
Chirurgeon of that Nation, did assist me in this work. I think the Brain itself 
was wounded. I left her in his hands, who I suppose finished the Cure." 1 
Cause of The following quotation illustrates a point upon which Wiseman and his 

wounds contemporaries often insisted, that gunshot wounds were not poisonous because 
of anything connected with the powder, but that their tendency to inflammation 
was due to failure on the surgeon's part to purify the wound properly : — 

" Nay, while any of the Rags remain in the Wound, it will never cure: 
but the extraneous bodies drawn out, there is little difficulty in the healing 
these Simple Wounds, if drest rationally." 

" An Instance whereof I shall give you in a poor Souldier, who was shot 
at the Castle of Dunbar with a Musket-bullet a little above the left Clavicle, 
in amongst the Muscles of that Scapula. The Bullet was drawn out by one 
of my Servants, and the Wound drest up with Digestives. But some days after, 
he being brought to Saint- Johnston's (Perth), I found it inflamed and very much 
swelled. We dressed it up according to the method set down in this Treatise ; 
but it apostemated, and mattered very much. After several unsuccessful 
Applications, I made an Incision by the side of the Scapula into the Cavity, and 
pulled out the Rags that had been carried in by the Shot : and from that time 
all Accidents ceased, and the Wound cured soon after. But if such be handled 
as some have lately taught, they are so many poisoned Gun-shot Wounds." 2 
Wounds of Gunshot wounds of the chest were apparently treated with success in 

Wiseman's time, as the following quotation shows. He seems somewhat 
sarcastic as to the great cures performed by the Scottish leeches in such cases by 
virtue of balsams given internally : — 

" From the Defeat of the Scotish Army near Dunbar there came many of 
the wounded to Saint-Johnston's ( Perth) , and amongst them there were severall 
wounded into the Breast. They who were so shot as to have the Ribs broken, 
were in extreme Pain from the Shivers : whereas the rest whose Bones were 
not hurt had scarce any Pain at all, but what proceeded from Difficulty of 
breathing ; they all coughing up a stinking Sanies both before and after the 
separation of the Sloughs. One of them cought a very great proportion daily 
of thin Matter, of a brown colour and ranck smell. None but this died under 
my hands ; the rest after some while retiring to their homes, where (as I have 
often heard them say) their Leeches performed great Cures, by virtue of some 
Plants which they gave internally, and which with Fats they made Balsams 
of. Yet I believe this man died tabid." 3 

1 Wiseman : " Severall Chirurgicall Treatises," London, 1676, p. 401. 

2 Wiseman: Op. cit., pp. 410 and 411. 

3 Wiseman : Op. cit., p. 436. 



Another military officer in Scotland was Thomas Sydenham, who acted as Thomas 
captain and incidentally as surgeon of a troop of horse in Cromwell's army s y denham 
during 1651. Sydenham mentions, in the " Anecdota Sydenhamiana," that colic- 
was troublesome among his men, and that he used more than a gallon of tinctura 
alexipharmaca for its relief. 

After the middle of the 17th century, Sydenham, in London, introduced 
a new method of treating fevers. Hitherto, it had been the custom to treat the 
patient in a fever by heaping clothes upon him in bed, closing up the room in which 
he lay, lighting a large fire, and supplying the patient with cordials and stimulants. 
Sydenham, however, insisted on opening windows, banishing fires and providing 
only the ordinary bed-clothes. The sick man was to be well supplied with bland 
fluids, of which Sydenham specially commended small beer, and in the case of 
smallpox he recommended the use of syrup of white poppies, and of a vomit 
of antimonial wine, as well as blood-letting in moderate degree, according 
to circumstances. 

In 1687, Sydenham was visited by Dr. Andrew Broun, of Edinburgh, who, Visited by 


in 1691, published a small book called " A Vindicatory Schedule concerning 1 

the New Cure of Fevers." Broun, who is commonly called " Dolphinton," from 
his estate in Lanarkshire, was an Edinburgh physician, and spent several months 
as a pupil of Sydenham, whom he eulogises in his book. The book provoked 
a spirited controversy in Edinburgh medical circles of the time, and in the 
Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh there are preserved some 14 pamphlets, 
published between 1691 and 1709, of refutations, defences, letters, etc., in 
regard to the new method of Sydenham's treatment, which Broun strove to 
introduce. The most interesting of these is one of 1692, entitled " In Speculo 
teipsum Contemplate," an imaginary and very abusive dialogue between Dr. Brown 
and a hypothetical Dr. Black. 1 

The general contention on the part of Andrew Broun and his supporters, who 

following Sydenham, was that in fevers cathartics gave relief, and might introduces 

0 j • . , Sydenham s 

be combined with blood-letting and restrained by paregoric. Help might methods in 

also be had from fixed and volatile salts as well as alkaline concretions, Edinburgh 

and by cupping, leeches and frictions. Vomiting, too, was supposed 

to aid the elimination of the poisonous material. For those persons who 

were able to go about, horseback exercise was recommended on account of 

its influence in " jogging the humours." Towards the end of this discussion, 

Dr. Archibald Pitcairne and Sir Robert Sibbald were brought in on a side issue, 

and the whole question seems to have caused great heart-burning for nearly 

20 years in Edinburgh medical circles. It appears from incidental references 

in these controversies that the chief medical authorities used in Scotland at 

that date were the " Practice of Medicine," of Riverius, and the " Practice of 

Medicine " of Sylvius. 

1 " Catalogue of the Koyal College of Physieians Library," Edinburgh, 1898, pp. 199 and 497. 



in the 


Members of 
the Beaton 


Highland Medicine 

Medicine, as practised in the Highlands and Islands of Western Scotland 
towards the end of the 17th century, presents several points of interest. Many 
of its practices were those of an old folk-medicine which had come down by tradition 
from ancient and, in some cases, from prehistoric times. Other measures used in 
treatment were apparently derived from southern or foreign sources, and had no 
doubt been introduced by the Highland practitioners of the middle and later ages 
who have already been mentioned. The people had to a great extent to rely upon 
remedies which were locally available, because owing to political considerations, 
the Highlands and Islands were to a large extent cut off from intercourse through 
the Lowlands with foreign countries. 

An account of medicine in the Western Islands was given by M. Martin, who 
collected information regarding this part of Scotland about the year 1688, and 
made a tour through the Islands, publishing his account in the year 1703. 1 Martin 
was a friend of Dr. Archibald Pitcairne, of Edinburgh, who apparently urged him 
to make this medical collection. 

The family of Beaton in the 16th and 17th centuries had still numerous repre- 
sentatives practising in different parts. Fergus Beaton, who practised in the Island 
of Erisca, still possessed a family library of old writers translated into Gaelic. 
These included Avicenna, Averroes, John of Vigo, Bernard Gordon, and several 
volumes of Hippocrates. 2 

James Beaton, who was a surgeon in the Isle of North Uist, took part with 
the Macleans in an attack upon a vessel belonging to the Earl of Argyle, who was 
attempting to seize the Island of Mull. 3 

Neil Beaton was an illiterate member of the family who took to medicine only 
at the age of 40 years, and claimed a great knowledge of plants, from which he 
extracted the juices by a chemistry of his own and used them for curing diseases. 
Although he treated medical books with contempt, he had the boldness " to cut a 
piece out of a woman's skull broader than half a crown, and by this restored her to 
perfect health." His fame spread through the islands and the neighbouring part of 
Scotland, so that sick people came to seek his advice from a distance of 70 miles. 4 

Among the remedies used by the Highlanders at this time, one of the most 
popular was the recourse to healing wells, which had been celebrated from remote 
antiquity. One of the best known was the Loch Siant well in Skye, to which 
people came from a great distance for the cure of headaches, stone, consumption, 
megrim, etc. It was customary in approaching the well to walk three times 
round it " dessil," that is, following the direction of the sun, then to drink the water, 
and on leaving to deposit some small offering on the stone covering the well. 

Another celebrated well in Islay was r eputed to have existed originally in Colonsay 
until " an imprudent woman happened to wash her hands in it and, that immediately 

1 Martin : " Description of the Western Islands of Scotland," London, 1703. 

2 Martin, Op. cit., p. 89. 

■ Martin, Op. cit., p. 325. 
J Martin, Op. cit., p. 198. 



after, the well being thus abused, came in an instant to Islay." This well had a great 
repute for the cure of all diseases, and here sick people, who had made a vow to 
come to the well, after drinking took a turn sunways round it and left some small 
offering on the stone cover of the well. Even if the patient were unable to come 
to the well, it was considered effective to send a proxy who, after performing these 
acts, carried home some of the water to be drunk by the sick person. 1 

Another ancient observance was used as an antidote to plague in men or cattle, Forced fire 
both in the Islands and on the mainland. It consisted in sprinkling upon the people superstition 
or the cattle infected with plague, water which had been boiled over a fire kindled 
according to the method used by primitive man. For this purpose all the fires 
in the parish were extinguished and Si married men, the number thought 

necessary for effecting the purpose, took two 
k planks of wood and, in relays of nine, were 

J employed laboriously rubbing the edge of one 
^^^-."•e- ' t *' plank against the other until the heat produced 

/ ; lire, from which each family was supplied with 

HHHDv > new fire to boil the water. 2 

JL* " - w • Another ancient observance which, how- 

ever, is found in various medical writers of 
the Middle Ages, was the wearing by the 
islanders of a sealskin girdle for the cure 
of sciatica. The same remedy was used in 
Aberdeenshire for the whooping-cough. 3 

In the island of Skve, Martin records that Diseases and 

the prevalent diseases were fevers, stitches, 1 


colic, headache, megrim, jaundice, sciatica, 
stone, smallpox, measles, rickets, scurvy, 
worms, fluxes, toothache, cough and quinsy. 
For these and other diseases the natives had 
a great variety of remedies. 4 

For pleurisy, plentiful blood-letting was the 
ordinary remedy. For fevers, whey in which 
violets had been boiled was used as a cooling and 
refreshing drink, and for producing perspiration 
a simple form of wet pack was employed, con- 
sisting of boiling the patient's shirt and quickly replacing it upon him. An infusion 
of dulse was considered good for producing action both of the skin and bowels, 
while a poultice of the same sea-plant was applied externally for the cure of the 
"iliac passion." The foxglove was also applied in a warm poultice to remove the 
fains following after fevers. Poultices of nettles, mixed with white of egg or of the 
sea plant linarich, or of Erica baccifera, were applied to the head to promote sleep. 

1 Martin : " Description of the Weston Islands of Scotland," London, 1703, p. 242. 

■ Martin, Op. cit., p. 113. 

■ Martin, Op. cit., p. 65. 

1 Martin, Op. cit., p. 175. 


Stone of the doc. Glen Lyon 
An ancient superstition in the central highlands 
was that according to the ease or difficulty with 
which a prennant woman could pass under the 
horizontal limb, so would her trial be easy 
or difficult 
(PIW.ORraph by Dr. N. D. Mackay) 

2 3 8 


For scarlet fever, which had appeared only recently in the Islands in Martin's 
time, a satisfactory cure was considered to be the drinking now and then of a 
glass of brandy, while a still more satisfactory cure of this disease in infants was 
supposed to be that the nurse should drink the brandy which " qualifies the milk 
and proves a successful remedy." 

Blisters were raised when necessary by placing Flamula jovis, or spire-wort, 
cut small in a limpet shell, in contact with the skin, or by employing crowfoot in 
the same way. As a remedy against the stone, water gruel without salt, and wild 
garlic infused in water, were considered effectual. Against worms, infusion of 
tansy in whey was taken fasting. 

Shunnis was a plant of high value as a remedy for coughs and colic, while 
hartstongue and maidenhair boiled in ale were used for cough and consumption. 
The hectic stone boiled in milk was used also for consumption. Deers' grease, the 
older the better, was rubbed into the soles of the feet, after bathing these in hot water, 
as a remedy for coughs and hoarseness, as well as for " vapours" in women. 

A remedy for jaundice was carried out as follows : The patient's back being 
bared, the nth vertebra was marked and the operator thereupon applied a 
red-hot pair of tongs to the skin beside it. 

For " iliac passion " or " twisting of the guts," a cataplasm of hot dulse, 
applied several times to the lower part of the abdomen, was regarded as a satisfactory 
treatment. In resistant cases more energetic treatment was practised, by causing 
the patient to take a draught of cold water containing oatmeal, after which he 
was hung up by the heels for some time. 

For a fracture, the highlanders were wont to apply white of egg with barley- 
meal to the limb, which was afterwards tied up in splints. The splints were from 
time to time taken down and an ointment containing betonica, St. John's wort, 
and golden rod, mixed with sheeps' fat or fresh butter was spread on a cloth and 
laid on the injured part. 

The fat of sea fowls was an approved vulnerary, and, to ripen an abscess, an 
ointment made of jacobea, cut small and mixed with fresh butter on a hot stone, 
was applied. 

A traditional remedy for lowness of spirits is worth mentioning, as it had been 
practised by the hereditary blacksmith at Kilmartin through 13 generations. 
The cure may be given in Martin's own words. 

A cure for " The patient being laid on the Anvil with his Face uppermost, the Smith 

takes a big Hammer in both his hands, and making his Face all Grimace, he 
approaches his Patient, and then drawing his Hammer from the Ground, as 
il he design'd to hit him with his full Strength on the Forehead, he ends in 
a Faint, else he would be sure to Cure the Patient of all Diseases ; but the Smith 
being accustomed with the performance has a dexterity of Managing his 
Hammer witli Descretion ; tho at the same time he must do it so as to strike 
Terror in the Patient, and this they say has always the design'd effect." 

Chapter XI 

The Surgeons of Edinburgh in the 
Seventeenth Century 

A F r E R the surgeons and barbers had obtained the Seal of Cause, various Enactments 

enactments were made from time to time confirming or extending the privileges \ n favour of 
f , , , , . _ . . • , , ■■ Edinburgh 

granted by this. It is convenient to summarise these here. 1 surgeons 

The Seal of Cause was confirmed by James IV. under the Privy Seal at 
Edinburgh on 13th October, 1506. 

Mary Queen of Scots, again confirmed this, and exempted the surgeons 
from bearing armour in raids and wars, as well as from sitting on inquests 
or assizes in criminal or civil actions. This edict was made at Edinburgh on 
nth May, 1567. 

James VI. again ratified all the privileges and confirmed Oueen Mary's letter 
of exemption on 6th June, 1613. 

The Town Council passed an Act forbidding any who had not been dis- 
approved by the surgeons from practising the art of surgery within the burgh, 
on 10th September, 1641. 

An Act of the Scottish Parliament, in favour of the surgeons and barbers of 
Edinburgh, ratifying all their privileges and giving the deacon and masters 
of the surgeons the power to take and apprehend all persons exercising the 
surgical art who were not freemen of the craft, and to fine them £20 Scots for 
contravention, was passed on 17th November, 1641. 

An Act of the Town Council, confirming the rights conveyed by the 
above-mentioned Act of Parliament, mentioning that the apothecaries were not 
Exempt from these, and making an attempt to define the conditions which 
naturally called for the surgeon's art, was passed on 27th June, 1655. 

An Act of the Town Council, regulating the practice of apothecaries and 
surgeon-apothecaries in the Burgh of Edinburgh, and reaffirming that no one should 
be admitted to practise the art of apothecary unless he had been examined by 
members of this body, was passed on 25th February, 1657. In this pronounce- 
ment it is distinctly stated that there is no intention of erecting the apothecaries 
into a corporation, but that the arrangement is merely made for the improvement 
of the apothecaries' art and the good of the people. 

1 See " Collection of Royal Grants and other Documents relative to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh," 
Edinburgh, 1S18. 



Adoption of 
by the 

College of 

An Act of the Scottish Parliament, in favour of the surgeons and barbers 
in relation to the art of pharmacy, confirming all previous privileges to this 
incorporation and joining them with the brotherhood of the surgeon-apothecaries 
and apothecaries in powers to search out irregular practitioners and fine them, 
was passed on 22nd August, 1670. 

In 1685, the Parliament ratified a decree of the Lords of Session in favour of 
the apothecaries of Edinburgh, declaring surgery and pharmacy to be distinct 
employments, and affirming that they should not be exercised by one and the same 
person within the city of Edinburgh. 1 This appears for a time to have freed the 
apothecaries from the surgeons, but the two bodies were again brought together 
ten years later. 

The Scottish Parliament ratified a gift and patent granted by King William 
and Queen Mary, in favour of the surgeons and surgeon-apothecaries, adjusting 
some of the differences between them, confirming their privileges and providing 
that their privileges should be nowise hurtful or prejudicial to the erection of the 
Royal College of Physicians, and this was passed on 17th July, 1695. 

It appears from proceedings in the Scottish Parliament that, in 1695, no one 
was allowed to practise surgery or pharmacy in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife, 
Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh or Berwick unless he had been licensed by the surgeon- 
apothecaries of Edinburgh. 2 

A declaration by the Royal College of Physicians, adjusting differences with 
the surgeons in Edinburgh regarding the practice of pharmacy by the latter, was 
made on 22nd July, 1695. 

An Act of the Town Council, in favour of the surgeon-apothecaries and 
apothecaries, mentions, on 24th June, 1696, that very few of this old fraternity 
are now living. 

An Act of the Town Council, in favour of the apothecaries and surgeon- 
apothecaries, on 9th December, 1696, mentions that several persons within 
the burgh are practising the art of apothecaries and keeping open shops without 
any warrant, and forbids them to do so until they have made application for an 
examination by the visitors of the fraternity. 

It appears, from a petition made to Parliament by the Royal College of 
Physicians in 1707, that the usual routine for a person desiring to practise in 
Edinburgh was to serve an apprenticeship to a surgeon, and thereafter pass a 
trial in surgery without having undergone any regular course of instruction. 3 

The charter of erection of the guild or incorporation of surgeons into the Royal 
College of Surgeons of the City of Edinburgh, converting the members of the 
Incorporation into Fellows, and conceding them new privileges, was granted by 
George III. on 14th March, 1778. A further charter, in 1851, severed the 
connection of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh with the city as one 
of its trade guilds. 4 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament, 1685," Vol. VIII., p. 530. 

2 Op. cit., 1695, Vol. IX., p. 508. 

3 Op. cit., 1707, Vol. XI., p. 124b. 

1 Smith : " The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Fourth Centenary," Edinburgh, 1905, p. 21. 



After the recognition of the combined surgeons and barbers as one of the guilds 
of craftsmen in Edinburgh, a definite history commences, which has extended 
up to the present day. The united guild originally stood ninth or tenth in order 
of seniority, but, partly by virtue of its important nature and partly owing to the 
high social position of the surgeons included in it, the guild of surgeons and 
barbers gradually attained the first position. Under Gilbert Primrose as Deacon, 
in 1582, this craft took precedence as the first of 14 then in existence. Many of 
the surgeons were men of wealth and owned lands near Edinburgh, such 
as James Borthwick of Stow, Alexander Pennycuik of Newhall, and Christopher 
Irving of Bonschaw. During the 17th century, three Deacons of the surgeons, 
viz., James Borthwick, in 1661, Arthur Temple, in 1669, and George Stirling, in 
1689, held the position of one of the two members returned by Edinburgh to the 
Scottish Parliament. 1 

In 1670, the town of Edinburgh was allowed by Parliament to choose another 
"commissioner" (as members of Parliament were then called), in room of 
Arthur Temple, surgeon, because he was often called from his place in Parliament 
jto attend sick persons. 2 

It should be mentioned in passing that the surgeons signed the National 
Covenant on 25th August, 1638, and ordained all their apprentices and servants 
jto subscribe it as well, declaring that no apprentice or servant should be admitted 
in future except such as should subscribe the Covenant. 

The place of meeting of the crafts in early times was Magdalen Chapel in the 
Cowgate, which belonged to the Guild of Hammermen. From the year 1581, also, 
the barber-surgeons appear to have held regular meetings, of which they kept minutes, 
and in this year the craft included 16 masters, together with their apprentices. 

The earliest minute, dated 2nd February, 1581, contains the following names Earliest 
of members of the craft at that time : — I lst ° f , 

The Incorporation met four times in the year at the Deacon's house, but there The funds 
vere other meetings at the kirk and in the " ile " of St. Giles. The accounts were 
briginally kept by the simple method of putting the funds in a box which had two 
leparate locks. The keys of these were entrusted to two different members of the 
Incorporation, and the box was placed inside a larger " kyst " with a single lock, 

1 Gairdner: " Historical Sketch of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, i860, p. 10. 

2 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," 1670, Vol. VIII., Appendix 3a. 


The Nameis of ye Masteris : 

Gilbert Primross, deckin 
Noyer Brussate 
Robert Henderson 
Alexander Bruce 
James Lindsay 
Jhon Woddal 
James Craig 
Alexander Tweedic 

Patrick Martine 
Hendrie Blyth 
Jhon Lowsone 
Hendrie Lumsdene 
Michall Bassetyne 
Alexander Fiddas 
Jhon Libbertoun 
Jacobe Brun. 





The clerk 

of which the key was kept by a third member. The kyst was deposited for safe 
keeping in the Deacon's house. On one occasion, in 1592, the funds in the box 
amounted to " six new rose nobilis, twa auld rose nobilis, four four-pound pieces, 
ane fyve-pound piece and ane crown of the sone, two Scottis testamis, ane Inglis 
testem and ane half merk piece." 

A misfortune befell John Nasmyth, Deacon in 1596, in connection with this 
box, which was broken by some " wiked person " and the contents, amounting 
to £45 6s. 8d. " theftuously stollen." Nasmyth was obliged to refund this money 
to the Incorporation, which, however, graciously permitted " that if the said John 
can get wit who has stollen the said money furth of the box, he will have . . . 
thereto as his own proper goods." 

At a later date a special official was appointed, known as the " Boxmaster," 
to take care of this box and render account of the reckoning and payments of the 
Calling's money. In 1644, David Kennedy, who was one of the four surgeons 
appointed to the Scottish army about to invade England, happened to be box- 
master, and Andro Walker was deputed boxmaster " till it please God to return 
the same David back Again." 

In 1678, James Hopkirk was boxmaster, and appears to have got into serious 
trouble with his accounts. When called upon to produce his accounts for the 
purpose of auditing, he made various excuses for delay, and on their hnally being 
produced, they were found to be so complicated that a committee had to be 
appointed to deal with them and report to the Incorporation. The meetings of 
the committee were very lively and both the auditors and boxmaster had to be 
" fined for cursing and banning and for scandalous speeches." 

Several items in the accounts had to be reduced, such as " the hiring of horses 
to the Lady Elphingston's buriall, their being no authority given ; " " to deduce 
20 shillings from the sum of £3 5s. paid to William Daes for wyne and aile, it being 
clear there were only two pynts of wyne and the aile drunken " ; and " disallowed 
£3 4s. for four days' work to the men for riddling of lime, etc., and that for morning 
and evening drinks because included in the masons' general discharge." 

In 1702, it was resolved that the boxmaster should in future be named 

The Incorporation of Surgeons had another official, known at first as the 
" Clerk," whose duty it was to keep the minutes, and who obtained numerousj 
fees and perquisites. The first clerk was a Notary Public named Adam Gibson, 
who was appointed in 1587. He was succeeded by Mr. Ouhite, he by David Gibson, 

office, and Mr. Patrick Moubray was appointed clerk for life. Some time later, 
the office, which was apparently a lucrative one, was sold to the highest bidder for 
£185 sterling, but this arrangement proved unsatisfactory. In 1825, the title of this 
official was changed to that of secretary, and in 1861 it was decided that the secretary 
should in future be a Fellow of the College, who, however, would nominate a clerk, 
subject to the approval of the College, to perform the duties under his supervision 

) was appointed m 1507. ne was succeeded Dy Mr. yumte, ne r>y L/avid uidsou,, 
he, in 1637, by Alexander Henryson. When Henryson demitted office in 1671, 
Incorporation requested the Lord Provost, Sir Andrew Ramsey, to fill up the 



The " Officer " of the Incorporation was an official mentioned in the Seal of The officer 
Cause of 1505, whose duties were to collect the weekly pennies and to marshal 
the members in processions. For a time the last admitted master-surgeon appears 
to have acted as officer of the craft for the time being. In 1664, when the physic- 
garden of the surgeons was instituted, George Cathcart was appointed to perform 
the duties both of gardener and of officer. He threw up his appointment after 
holding it for 34 years, because the Incorporation, in 1698, decided that their 
officer should wear a livery coat with a silver badge, and this he indignantly 
refused to do. Another officer was found in the person of Andrew Raeburn, 
who was not affected by any such scruple. The holder of this post at the present 
day is the only official who is still called by the original title of his office. 

The method of admission to the craft was by apprenticeship, and the aspirant Admission of 
to practise surgery was required to have been apprenticed to a master-surgeon in apprentices 
Edinburgh for six years before he was admitted to examination. During the 
time of his apprenticeship he lived in the master's house. When he was apprenticed 
he paid 20s. to the Incorporation as well as 2s. for clerk's fees, and he apparently 
obtained the loan of the necessary instruments. At the end of his apprenticeship 
he might present himself for examination, or he might continue to act as an assistant 
to his master, being described as the " servand " of the latter. Before, however, 
he could qualify as a master-surgeon, he had also to become a burgess of the city. 1 

In the 16th century, when wars between Scotland and England were habitually Unruliness of 
in progress, the apprentices of Edinburgh were of great value for their military a PP rentlc es 
prowess, and some of their services with the surgeons on the borders have already 
been noticed. But after the union of the crowns of the two countries there was 
no further legitimate outlet for their combative ardour, and the apprentices of 
the various crafts in Edinburgh appear to have been a turbulent set, who constantly 
found excuses for riots and other disturbances of the peace. The surgeon-apprentices 
in the early part of the 17th century seem to have been particularly unmanageable. 
This had become so insufferable that on 7th May, 1612, there is a minute of the 
Incorporation in the following words : — 

" Whilk day the Decone and brethrene under subscryvand beand convenit 
in the Decone's house, and respecting and considering the insolencie of thair 
servands and prenteisses, how thay ar sa gevin to licentiousness that thay 
will not be correctit, sa that not only in evil speeches but als be way of deid 
they will misserve thair maisteris and wilfullie gainstand thair will and 
correction, therefore it is statut and ordanit that nane of thair prenteisses 
or servands, prnt or to cum, sail use or weir ony dager, quhinzard, or knyff 
except ane knyff to cut thair meit, wanting the point. Under the paine 
of tinsell of thair freedom and liberties of the said craft, and all utheris privileges 
and liberties that thai may enjoy throw thair maisters. And that nane of 
the saids prenteisses or servands miscall nor invaid thair maisteris or mastresses 
in tyme cuming under the paine forsaid." 2 

> Creswell : " The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh from 1505 to 1905," Edinburgh, 1926, p. 17, el seq. 
2 Gairdner: " Early History of the Medical Profession in Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1864, p. 13. 






From early times it was the custom for an apprentice, on admission to the 
craft, as specified in the Seal of Cause, to provide " the denner to be maid to the 
maisters efter he be exemmit and admitted by them." The style of the dinner 
probably depended upon the generosity and means of the newly-admitted master, 
but later the amount expended was fixed at 40 pounds Scots. This custom was 
continued through the whole of the 17th century, but later it was decided to 
discontinue the practice, which was regarded as extravagant, and the banquet was 
limited to a pint of wine provided by each of the three examiners, and another 
pint provided by the entrant. 

Other social gatherings of the surgeons and barbers took place in early days, 
and the favourite place of meeting was John Clearihue's tavern, " The Star and 
Garter," situated in Writers' Close, which was a favourite resort of the magistrates 
and leading men of the day. A vivid description of a meeting in this tavern is 
given by Scott in " Guy Mannering." 

A receipted account (of the 18th century) signed by John Clearihue himself, 
bears evidence of the abstemious habits of the surgeons, for at one of their meetings 
held in No. 9 room, their libations for the evening were settled for the modest 
sum of £1 18s. 6d. Of this, 11 shillings was for supper, 18 shillings for three 
bottles of claret, one and sixpence for bread and beer, and three shillings and 
sevenpence for punch, porter, biscuits and a broken cup. ft took two shillings 
and fivepence, however, to assuage the drouth of the officer, who appears to have 
been present, and two shillings to tip the waiter. 1 Other favourite places of 
meetings were John's coffee house at the north-east corner of Parliament Close, 
a favourite resort of judges and lawyers in the 18th century, Muirhead's coffee 
house, and the Laigh coffee house. 

The eldest son of any member of the craft might claim as a right to be admitted 
after due apprenticeship and passing of the examination. Sometimes the exam- 
ination was dispensed with, as, for example, in the case of James Harvey (1612), 
who was admitted " in consideration of the good way in which he has already 
served her Majesty." John Pringel, in 1623, was similarly admitted a free surgeon 
on account of services in France and Flanders, where " he had become learned 
and expert in the art of Chirurgie." Similarly, Andrew Brown, in 1649, was 
admitted without examination " because of his known abilities and of his constant 
adhering to the cause of God in the midst of so many trials and temptations within 
the Kingdom of Ireland and transporting of himself and his wife and family to 
this Kingdom from thense." 

The privilege was not, however, always granted when it was asked, as in 
the case of John Dickson, apprenticed to Archibald Hay, surgeon to his Majesty, 
who applied for admission to the craft by favour. The surgeons having raised 
some demur, the said John, apparently seeing little chance of his admission, 
sent them a message " that he would not give tuppens for any privilege they 
could afford him." 

1 Crcswell : " The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, from 1505 to 1905," Edinburgh, 1926, p. 150. 



It is quite clear from the terms of the Seal of Cause and from other early 
references that the Incorporation consisted of two crafts, the surgeons and the 
barbers, who combined for mutual support. The barbers practised certain arts 
of minor surgery, but were eligible to become surgeons. In 1588, a class of simple 
barbers was established, and these were permitted only " to clip, cow, shave and 
wash, and make aquavite only without any further liberty to use and exercise any 
part of the art of chirurgie." This admission of simple barbers was, however, 
discontinued in 1616. 

The sum paid by surgeons upon admission to the craft was, up to 1616, three Admission 
score pounds Scots, and by barbers forty pounds Scots. After this date, however, fees 
the admission fee of the surgeons was raised to a hundred pounds Scots. 

In 1648, the Incorporation was composed of 16 members, comprising six 
surgeons, four barber-surgeons and six members of the barber craft, still pursuing 
their studies in order to qualify themselves for the rank of surgeon. 

In the 17th century a practice grew up of conferring honorary freedom of the Honorary 
Incorporation upon distinguished persons who were not surgeons. Thus, in 1671, sur g<-' ons 
Sir Andrew Ramsey, Lord Provost of the City, " an honest abill man," who had 
conferred numerous benefits upon the Incorporation, was elected an honorary 
freeman. In 1672, the same distinction was conferred upon the Duke of Lauderdale, 
and, at a later date, the Duke of Cumberland (" Butcher Cumberland "), on 
his return from Culloden, was made an honorary freeman of this as well as 
of the other crafts. In the last two cases the conferring of the freedom of the 
craft may probably be regarded as of the nature of making friends with the 
Mammon of Unrighteousness. 

The first Doctor of Medicine to enter the Incorporation of Surgeons was Christophe: 
Christopher Irving, who had graduated in Arts at Edinburgh in 1645, and later l rvm g 
became a Doctor of Medicine at some foreign university. He entered the Incorpora- 
tion of Surgeons in 1658. He was an author of some note in the 17th century, 
and was employed by the Town Council, in 1660, to translate from Latin into the 
Scots vernacular the Bohemian Covenant, for the use of the College of Edinburgh. 
In 1656, he published a treatise called " Medicina Magnetica, or the Rare and 
Wonderful Art of Curing by Sympathy." It was dedicated to General Monk, 
contained a collection of aphorisms, and revived some of the mystical doctrines 
of Paracelsus. He also wrote a drama in Latin, called " Bellum Grammaticale," 
intended to be a humorous exposition of the principles of grammar, and dedicated 
to Dr. George Sibbald. Also an " Historian Scoticas Nomenclatura," on the 
explanation of Scottish names of persons and places, dedicated to the 
Duke of York. 

Irving was proprietor of the estate of Bonshaw, and at the time of the erection 
of the College of Physicians, in 1681, he fell foul of this body, whose control he 
resented, petitioning the Privy Council on account of his education, degrees, army 
commissions and general standing, that this College should not be allowed 
to interfere with him in the practice of medicine. This was granted by the 



Effects of 



on surgeons' 


Privy Council, and by an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1685, he was 
specially exempted as a physician from the control of the College of Physicians. 
Sir Walter Scott introduced him into " The Fortunes of Nigel," as contemporary 
with King James I., though this involves an anachronism of some half a century. 
He was the first person to enter the Incorporation of Surgeons after a crisis had 
occurred between the surgeons and barbers in 1657, so that he was described as 
" ane frie chirurgane " and the words "and barber," which occur in all 
previous minutes of admission, are not added either in his case or in the case 
of any later entrant. 1 

About this time, a change had taken place in the nature of the surgeons' craft. 
Pharmacy was now taught along with the art of surgery, whereas previously a 
surgeon had sometimes been an apothecary as well, but, as a rule, had not. 
The apothecary's calling appears to have 
been regarded as of higher standing than 
that of the surgeon, if we may judge 
from the fact that James Borthwick, who 
had been a very prominent member of 
the Surgeons' Incorporation, was described 
on his tombstone as " pharmacopoeus " 
only. 2 Troubles also arose in connection 
with the extension of the city, for the 
rights of monopoly possessed by the 
surgeons and barbers in Edinburgh did 
not extend to the Canongate and other 
suburbs. It must be remembered that, 
at this time, anyone who desired to prac- 
tise medicine and surgery in Scotland 
might do so without let or hindrance, so 
long as he did not invade the district 
in and around Glasgow supervised by 
the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, 
or practise as a barber-surgeon in one of 
the burghs where a guild existed. The 
necessary qualification elsewhere consisted 
simply in the ability to obtain patients. 

From 1657 onwards, when Borthwick and Kincaid set up as surgeon- 
apothecaries, pharmacy had a greater attraction to the apprentices than the 
barber craft. Barber-surgeons who practised shaving, hair-cutting and minor 
surgery thus fell off in numbers, so much so that in 1682 the Town Council 
made a complaint to the Incorporation that there were only six barbers 
following the trade within the city walls. 3 

James Borthwick's Tombstone in 
Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh 
Note the 17th century representations of surgical 
instruments in the panels 

1 Gairdner : ' Early History of the Medical Profession in Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1864, p. 21 ; and " List of Fellows 

of the Royal College of Surgeons," p. 14. 
- Maitlund : " History of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1753, p. 193. 

1 Creswell : "The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh from 1505 to 1905," Edinburgh, 1926, p. 103. 



The citizens had thus to betake themselves to the suburbs in order to have their Decline of 
hair and beards trimmed, and the Town Council accordingly sent a message to the the barber 
Incorporation of Chirurgeons that the latter must either receive into their freedom 
a sufficient number of barbers or the Town Council would be at the necessity of 
recognising persons outside the craft. Following upon this a number of barbers 
were admitted. The attitude of the surgeons towards these inferior members was, 
however, so oppressive that the barbers later rebelled, and, in 1718, as the result 
of an action in the Court of Session, the barbers were allowed to appoint their own 
preses and boxmaster (treasurer), and to have freedom in the management of their 
own affairs. 


0 I 2 3 4- 5 6 7 8 9 10 II 12 13 14- 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 

mJ i — i i i I i i — ii — I i — ii — i I i i i — 

(Original in the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh) 

The change in medical practice in Edinburgh at this time was a very 
complicated one. Simple barbers, as they were called, who had no desire to 
practise minor surgery, set up shops ; simple apothecaries also, who did not 
practise surgery, possessed shops for the sale of spices, drugs and similar 
commodities. A careful watch was kept by the Incorporation of Surgeons upon 
these to see that the privileges of the Incorporation were not invaded, and 



End of their 

The surgeon- 


numerous prosecutions took place and fines were levied. The simple barbers, 
whose trade in wig-making at the end of the 17th century had, owing to the 
prevailing fashion, become very profitable, wished to be free of surgery and the 
surgeons; and accordingly, as the result of the action brought in 1718, a final 
cleavage between these two crafts took place. In 1682, the apothecaries had 
come under the protection of the College of Physicians, founded in 1681, and 
could to a large extent bid defiance to the surgeons, so long as they did not 
grossly offend by performing any serious operation. 

The further history of the barbers is interesting as showing how changed 
circumstances lead to the decease of ancient corporations. The final separation 
took place in 1845, when the surgeons got a new grant of incorporation and were 
released from all obligations to the barbers in consideration of an annual payment 
of £10. The Society of Barbers received its death-blow from an Act of Parliament, 
in 1847, which abolished restricted trading ; so that thereafter anyone who chose 
might put up a pole and practise the calling without joining the society. The 
last member was admitted to the society on 12th September, 1885, and the last 
meeting was held on 17th September, 1892. 

At this meeting the whole society — a father and son — were present. They 
elected each other preses and boxmaster respectively, reappointed the clerk, and 
departed to meet no more. The preses died, the boxmaster left the country, 
and the clerk also died, leaving behind him the old oak treasure box, the 
minute books and the papers in his keeping. As the society in 1925 consisted 
of only one possible member, whose whereabouts was unknown, the court handed 
over the treasure box and papers to the custody of the Royal College of Surgeons, 
Edinburgh, which was regarded as the nearest representative of the defunct 
Incorporation. 1 

In other parts of Scotland, the surgeon-apothecary, during the course of 
the 17th century, became the type of practitioner who looked after the health of 
the community and lost all connection with the calling of the barber. His 
training consisted solely in an apprenticeship, generally of five years, to an 
established practitioner, although, in the case of a man who wished to attain 
reputation and success in practice, he had usually taken occasion in his youth to 
hear lectures at one of the universities or in some Continental medical school. 

On 22nd May, 1778, a charter was granted to the Incorporation, embodying 
it anew under the name and title of the Royal College of Surgeons of the City of 
Edinburgh, and thus the final separation from barbers on the one hand and 
apothecaries on the other was legally ratified. In 1798, the College petitioned the 
East India Company to recognise a diploma issued by the College as sufficient 
evidence of qualification for appointment to their service without further examina- 
tion, and this request was granted. About 1808, the diploma was similarly 
recognised by the Army Medical Board after a revisal of the laws relative to 
examination in 1806. 

1 Scott Moncrieff : " The Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers," Edinburgh Medical Journal, December, 1912, p. 524- 



More stringent regulations regarding the diploma were made in 1816 ■ and after 
the passing of the Medical Act of 1858, the College of Surgeons and the College of 
Physicians instituted a double qualification. In 1884, these two Colleges joined 
with the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow to establish the 
Triple Qualification, by which the licentiates of all three bodies might have 
the qualification necessary for practice, viz., of holding a diploma in both 
medicine and surgery. 

From an early period of 
barbers had taken an interest 


the study 

teaching of 

(Original in the 

BORTHWICK (16 1 5- 1 67 5) 
Royal College of Surgeons, Edinbur, 

he had served abroad as 

the craft of surgeons and 
of anatomy, and had been 
granted, in 1505, the 
privilege in this respect 
conveyed by the Seal of 
Cause. In terms of the 
Seal of Cause, instruction 
in anatomy was given by 
the members in rotation 
for more than a century, 
but when we come to the 
year 1645, we find, for 
the first time, a definite 
teacher of anatomy men- 
tioned. In this year James James 
Borthwick, a burgess of Borthwick 
Edinburgh, having duly 
passed his examination, 
was admitted as a Master- 
Surgeon for the special 
purpose of " desecting of 
anatomie for the farder in- 
struction of prentissis and 
servandis." Borth wick's 
admission was a special 
one : he paid 200 pounds 
of entry fee instead of 
the statutory 100 pounds 
(Scots). 1 Instead of the 
a surgeon along with 

usual apprenticeship, 
Alexander Pennycuik. 

Pennycuik was Deacon of the Craft in 1645, and had been surgeon to General Alexander 
Banner (Commander of the Swedish Forces in the Thirty Years' War), and later Penn y cmk 
Chirurgeon-General to the Auxiliary Scots Army in England during the Civil War, 
and to the Scots troops with Prince Charles in 1650. 2 A petition of 1663, which 

1 " Records of the College of Surgeons," 20th March, 1645. 

2 " Works of Alexander Pennecuik," Leith, 1S15, p. 2. 



indicates the important military services of Alexander Pennycuik, was recom- 
mended by Commissioners after the Civil War for payment by His Majesty Charles II. 
Pennycuik had accompanied the Scottish Army, fighting for Charles II., and had 
been present at the battles of Preston and Worcester. He petitioned for a sum 
of £3668 6s. 8d. as balance of pay and disbursements made by him during six years' 
service. He also claimed £166 13s. 4^. for damage done to his lands and plundering 
of his house in Edinburgh by the " Inglish usurpers." 1 

It had been the custom till now to hold the meetings of the craft in the house Meeting 
of the Deacon for the time being, and one can imagine that the anatomical P lac : ein , 

• • Dickson s 

instruction must have caused some awkwardness in his domestic arrangements, close 

In 1647, however, David Kennedy and James Borthwick reported that they had 

taken as a place of meeting, " three rowmes of ane tenement of land in Diksone 

Close, for payment of fourtie poundis zeirlie." 2 

These rooms were furnished with a board and two forms, a green tablecloth, 
" half a dozen of chaires and a skeleton." After settling three years in Dickson's 
Close, the Calling removed in the spring of 1650 to new premises at the foot of the 
Kirkheuch, close to St. Giles. This was apparently used later as a billet for English 
soldiers, and afterwards the craft took for their meetings " two front rooms in 
John Scott's house," and later a " chamber " belonging to Thomas Kincaid, 
both of whom were members of the craft. 

By 1669, it was found that such arrangements were unsuitable, and the craft Erection of 
decided to build a " convening house " on a piece of ground, in the south-east house' 61 " 08 
angle of the city wall, presented to them by the Town Council in 1656, each member 
subscribing /100 for that purpose. 3 

On 24th October, 1694, a member of the Incorporation, Alexander Monteath, Grant of 

apparently on the instigation of Dr. Pitcairne, obtained from the Town Council a anatonilcal 

f r J . 0 ' . ,, material 

gift for thirteen years " of those bodies that dye in the correction-house," and 

of " the bodies of fundlings that dye upon the breast," together with a room 

for dissections. Immediately the other members of the Incorporation presented 

a petition (2nd November, 1694) for similar privileges. 

The ingenuity of the Town Council was somewhat taxed to discover other 
sources of anatomical material, but they succeeded by granting " the bodies of 
fundlings who dye betwixt the tyme that they are weaned and their being put to 
schools or trades ; also the dead bodies of such as are stiflet in the birth, which 
are exposed, and have none to owne them ; as also the dead bodies of such as 
are fclo de se, and have none to owne them ; likwayes the bodies of such as are 
put to death by sentence of the magistrat, and have none to owne them." The 
grant was to take effect in the winter time, and there was an important condition 
attached, that the petitioners should, by Michaelmas, 1697, build, repair and have 

1 " Acts of the Scottish Parliament," Vol. VII., Appendix, p. 101. 

! " Records of the College of Surgeons," 26th September, 1591, and 15th July, 1647. 

' Ibid. 18th May, and 26th May, 1669. 







in botany 

in readiness an anatomical theatre for public dissections, the hall of 1669 being 
apparently not large enough, or otherwise unsuitable. 1 

Alexander Monteath, who was Deacon of the Incorporation when the new 
hall and anatomical theatre were erected in 1697, was a son of James Monteath 
of Auldcathie, and served his apprenticeship to William Borthwick, afterwards 
spending several years abroad in the study of his profession. He was admitted 
a Master-Surgeon in 1691, and in 1700 he petitioned Parliament " that the art 
discovered by him to draw Spirits from malt equal in goodness to true French 
Brandie, may be declared a manufactory with the same privileges and immunities 
as are granted to other manufactories." This was the beginning of an important 
Scottish industry. 

He afterwards got into trouble with the Town Council through his criticism 
of excessive expenditure by the magistrates, and for this reason he was turned 
out of the Town Council. It is probable, however, that this was merely an excuse, 
and that the disfavour of the Town Council was due to Monteath's Jacobite 
sympathies. He retained the favour of the surgeons, and, in i70i,was unanimously 
re-elected their " preses." 

The new Surgeons' Hall was ready on the site of the old one, and the gift 
confirmed by December, 1697, and from this time the teaching of anatomy in 
Edinburgh became systematic. The surgeons also laid out round the hall a 
garden in which medicinal herbs were grown, and, at a later date, established 
a bath in connection with their premises. 

As far back as 1664, the minutes disclose that the surgeons had a garden 
furnished with all kinds of medicinal herbs, and, in 1668, an agreement with George 
Cathcart, their gardener, describes his duties in detail. He was to occupy the 
gardener's house beneath their convening room, and to plant the yards (High School 
yards) with medicinal herbs and flowers for the use of the Calling. He was 
permitted to use a part of the garden to grow pot herbs for himself, and he was 
at liberty to sell drink and to keep "kyles " (a bowling alley), " providing he suffer 
not the vulgar sort of persons and the scholars of the High School to play thereat." 

About the end of the century an arrangement was reached between the Calling 
and Mr. James Sutherland, professor of botany, that apprentices and others 
who had the liberty of the shops of the surgeon-apothecaries, should pay a guinea 
to him, for which he, on his part, undertook to attend the masters of the Calling 
in the garden, demonstrate the plants, to conduct " a solemn public herbarizing 
in the fields " four times yearly, and to teach the apprentices and servants at such 
hours as the masters should appoint. In 1705, when Sutherland was superseded 
by Charles Preston, the surgeons, finding that the knowledge of botany was 
absolutely necessary for their apprentices, continued the arrangement with him. 
Again, when Dr. Charles Preston died in 1711, and was succeeded by his brother, 
George Preston, regulations were drawn up that all apprentices and servants 
should attend the class in the garden from the middle of May till the end of 
September, between the hours of five and seven in the morning. 

1 Gairdner : " Historical Sketch of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, i860, pp. 16 and 17. 



The surgeons from an early date had possessed certain " rarities " and books The museum 
which formed the nucleus of the magnificent museum which is now housed in 
the hall in Nicholson Street. Provision was made for housing these when the 
hall at Surgeons' Square was erected, and, in October, 1699, an advertisement 
was put in the Edinburgh Gazette notifying that the chirurgeon- apothecaries 
of Edinburgh were erecting " a library of Physicall, Anatomicall, Chirurgicall, 
Botanical!, Pharmaceuticall and other Curious books," and that they were also 
making " a collection of all naturall and artificiall curiosities." Persons having 
such to bestow were asked to give notice to Walter Porterfield, treasurer to the 
society, who would acknowledge the gifts or, if the possessors did not think fit 
to bestow them gratis, would be willing to give reasonable prices for them. 

The rarities at the time included such things as " ane egyle " given by 
Alexander Monteath, " three scorpions and a chameleon," presented by Lord 
Royston, and " an allegatory or young crocodile," the gift of Dr. Charles Oliphant. 1 

The new hall and anatomical theatre contained a laboratory which consisted The 
of three rooms in the under-basement of the house towards the west end, and this laborator y 
was leased in 1697 to Alexander Monteath. He fitted it up as a chemical laboratory, 
containing among other things " four hundred gally-pigs," at a cost of £20, and 
" a great hot pot " at a cost of £5. Here he was to train the " intrant apothecaries " 
in the art of chemistry. 

Still another department of the new surgical building in 1697 was a bagnio, The bath 
or bath-house, with hot and cold baths. The Town Council permitted the surgeons 
to obtain the overflow from the trough of the well at the head of Niddrie's Wynd, 
which was brought to the hall through pipes laid down by Patrick Skirving, plumber 
in the Canongate. The bagnio seems to have been a fine place, for it 
was floored with 400 black and 400 white marble stones, about one foot 
square, and the walls were lined with some 700 white tiles, five inches 
square. The bath had a bottom of copper, weighing 51 pounds, and costing 
£63. The bath was, however, not open to the public until January, 1704, when 
it was announced that here " all noblemen, gentlemen, ladies and others may be 
conveniently sweated and bathed — the men on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 
and Saturdays, and the women on Tuesdays and Fridays (on which two days no 
man is allowed to come within the garden)." 

The price for a bath was £3 Scots per person, although any person desiring to use 
the bagnio alone might enjoy it at a charge of £6 Scots. At a later date public 
advertisements were distributed announcing the price of the bath to be 4s. sterling 
and is. to the servants, and in 1718 an advertisement in the Public Courant 
intimated that " people are allowed to come in and wash themselves for half an 
hour in the little bagnio and to have the use of a room to dress in for 
eighteen pence, but if they stay longer the haill dues are to be paid." 

The bagnios, however, ultimately proved a failure, and, in 1740, it was decided 
to give them up. 

1 Miles : " The Edinburgh School of Surgery before Lister," London, 1918, p. 15. 

2 54 


We may now return to the subject of anatomical instruction in the new Hall. 

Pitcairne and Monteath joined other members of the Incorporation in giving 
combined anatomical demonstrations, and we find Pitcairne writing, in 1694, to j 
a friend in London that he proposed " to make better improvements in anatomy j 
than have been made at Leyden these thirty years." 1 

Anatomical There is a minute of the Incorporation for January, 1703, showing how the 

j°" se m anatomical demonstrations were then (November, 1702), carried out by the various j 
members appointed for the purpose : First day, a general discourse on anatomy, | 
and the common teguments and muscles of the abdomen, by James Hamilton, 
the Deacon. Second day, the peritoneum, omentum, stomach, intestines, 
mesentery and pancreas, by John Baillie. Third day, the liver, spleen, 
kidneys, ureters, bladder and parts of generation, by Alexander Monteath. 
Fourth day, the brain and its membranes, with a discourse of the animal spirits, 
by David Fyfe. Fifth day, the muscles of the extremities, by Hugh Paterson. 
Sixth day, the skeleton in general, with the head, by Robert Clerk. Seventh 
day, the articulations and the rest of the skeleton, by James Auchinleck. 
Eighth day, the epilogue, by Dr. Pitcairne. 2 

Another and longer course of ten demonstrations is minuted in the records 
of the surgeons (18th May, 1704), as having taken place in the preceding April. 
It was as follows : First day, James Hamilton, a discourse on anatomie in generall j 
with a dissection and demonstration of the common teguments and muscles of the 
abdomen. Second day, John Mirrie, the umbilicus, omentum, peritoneum, stomach, 
pancreas, intestines, vasa lactea, mesentery, receptaculum chyli and ductus 
thoracicus. Third day, Mr. Alexander Nisbet, the liver, vesica fellis, with 
their vessels, spleen, kidneys, glandulse renales, ureters and bladder. Fourth 
day, George Dundas, the organs of generation in a woman, with a discourse 
of hernia. Fifth day, Robert Swintoun, the containing and contained parts 
of the thorax, with the circulation of the blood and respiration. Sixth day, 
Henry Hamilton, the hair, teguments, dura and pia mater, cerebrum, cerebellum, 
medulla oblongata and nerves within the head. Seventh day, Robert Eliot, 
the five externall senses, with a demonstration of their severall organs. 
Eighth day, John Jossy, the muscles of the neck and arm, with a discourse on 
muscular motion. Ninth day, Walter Potter, the muscles of the back, 
thigh and legg. The epilogue or conclusion, by Dr. Archibald Pitcairne. 

Robert Eliot About the year 1705, there appears to have been a general desire that one 
man should take over the management of these lectures, and there was consider- 
able competition for the privilege of being appointed to do this. Robert Eliot 
was chosen by the Incorporation as " public dissector," and later in the same year 
(29th August, 1705), he also received from the Town Council a salary of £15 per 

1 Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," 1817, Vol. II, p. 149. 

: CresweU : " The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh from 1505 to 1905," Edinburgh, 1926, pp. 193 and 194. 



annum. Eliot was thus the first " Professor of Anatomy " in the Town's College, 
and the earliest professor of this subject in Britain. The appointment was a 
double one, the town providing the salary and the surgeons supplying the theatre. 
In 1708, at his request, Adam Drummond was conjoined with him in this post, 
receiving half of the salary. 1 

Anatomy now became a very popular study, and the supply of bodies from Adam 
the sources already mentioned proving inadequate, recourse was had to body- Drummond 
snatching. As early as 171 1 there were great complaints of graves in Edinburgh 
being rifled. The Incorporation of Surgeons felt themselves called upon 
to forward to the magistrates a memorial which, in the first place, denounced 

this as " a scandalous 
report, most maliciously 
spread about the town," 
and entreated the 
magistrates to exert their 
utmost power for the 
" discovery of such an 
atrocious and wicked 
crime." Expulsion from 
the Incorporation was also 
threatened against any of 
its members or apprentices 
who should be found 
concerned in the fore- 
said crimes. The whole 
memorial, however, sounds 
rather exculpatory than 
sincere, and the practice 
probably continued, 
though with greater pre- 
caution. 2 

On the death of John M'Gill 
Robert Eliot, in 1714, 
John M'Gill was asso- 
ciated with Adam 
Drummond as joint pro- 
fessor of anatomy in 
the Town's College. Two 
years later they resigned their posts—" as the state of their health and business 
were such that they could not duly attend the said professorships "—in favour 
of Alexander Monro (primus). 

James Hamilton 
Deacon of Surgeons. 1702 
(Original in the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh) 

1 Struthers : "The Edinburgh Anatomical School," Edinburgh, 1867, p. 14. 
- Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," 1S17, Vol. II., p. 163. 



Alexander Monro (1697-1767), then a young man of 22, had been educated Alexander 
by his father John Monro, an old army surgeon, for this post. John Monro Monro 
had been a pupil of Pitcairne 1 at Leyden in 1692, so that he readily fell in with 
the schemes of the latter for the establishment of a medical school at Edinburgh, 
and continued to work for the foundation of a hospital there after Pitcairne's 
death. Alexander Monro had a special knowledge of anatomy, had studied under 
Cheselden in London, and had been admitted a Master of the Calling three months 
previously. He was now (22nd January, 1720) elected " Professor of Anatomy 
in this city (Edinburgh) and college," the yearly salary of £15 being continued. 

On 14th March, 1722, Monro's appointment 
was confirmed ad vitam nut culpam, 
instead of the previous tenure of office 
" during the Council's pleasure." 2 

In 1 718, Alexander Monro had pre- 
sented to the surgeons "some anatomical 
pieces done by himself," including an 
articulated skeleton in a glass case, and 
dissections preserved in spirit ; of which 
the skeleton and case are still extant. 
Monro lectured in the Hall of the Sur- 
geons from 1719 till 1725, when, following 
upon a public riot directed against body- 
snatching, he removed his preparations 
for greater security within the walls of 
the university, as the Town's College had 
come by this time to be called. 3 Once 
more on this occasion (17th April, 
1725) the Incorporation of Chirurgeons 
published a notice, which was 
printed and distributed through the 
town, deprecating and denying body- 
snatching. It contains the following 
curious passage : — 

" As also, the Incorporation under- 
standing that country people and servants 
in town are frightened by a villainous 
report that they are in danger of being 
attacked and seized by Chirurgeons' 
apprentices in order to be dissected ; and although this report will appear ridiculous 
and incredible to any thinking person, yet the Incorporation, for finding out the 
foundation and rise thereof, do promise a reward of five pounds stg. for discovering 

Rumours of 

Dissections by Alexander Monro 
(primus) and Archibald Pitcairne 

(Preserved in the Royal College of Surgeons at 

1 Album Studiosorum Acad. Lugduno-Batav., I575-' R 75- 

2 Bower: " History of the University of Edinburgh," 1817, Vol. II., p. 182. 

3 Bower: Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 184. 



■2 59 

such as have given just ground for this report, whether they be Chirurgeons' 
apprentices or others personating them in their rambles or using this cover for 
executing their other villainous designs." 

There are, however, records which give some colour to this report ; for 
example, in 1724, after a woman had been executed, there ensued a fight between 
her friends and some surgeon -apprentices for possession of the body. In the 
middle of the fracas the supposed corpse came to life, and lived for many 
years with the popular appellation of " half-hangit Maggie Dickson." It was 
not till a century later that the report received dreadful confirmation in the 
revelations at the trial of Burke and Hare. 1 


Royal College of Surgeons 

'Cieswell: "The Roval College of Surgeons: Anatomy in the Early Days," Edinburgh Medical Journal, 1914. 
Vol. XI]., p. 150. 

Chapter X 1 1 

Foundation of the Physic Garden and of the 
Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh 

The necessity for a supply of good doctors in Edinburgh, as in other parts Necessity 
of Scotland, and the further necessity for a controlling influence, such as that con ^ ro1 ° f 

met 1 1 ci i 

exerted by the College of Physicians, is demonstrated by the frequency with which practice 
strolling mountebanks appeared, even in the capital city. In 1672, Joannes 
Michael Philo, physician, and " sworn operator to his majesty," petitioned the 
Privy Council for permission to erect a public stage in Edinburgh for the practice 
of his profession, which was allowed, though he was forbidden " to have any rope- 
dancing." He was reported later to have " thereon cured thretteen blind persons, 
several lame, and cut several cancers, and done many other notable cures, as is 
notourly known, and that out of mere charity." The Privy Council, after he 
had been three months in Edinburgh, gave him a warrant "to go and do 
likewise in all the other burghs of the kingdom," for six months, and recommended 
him to the help and countenance of the magistrates of the burghs. 1 

Again, in 1677, there is notice of a travelling doctor, styling himself Joannes 
Baptista Marentini, who with the permission of the Edinburgh Town Council, 
erected a stage in the city for practising his skill in physic and otherwise. Marentini 
had a servant, Monsieur Devoe, about whom James Baynes petitioned the Privy 
Council because he, while " servant to the mountebank who was lately in this 
place, hath, by sinistrous and indirect means, secured and enticed the petitioner's 
daughter and only child to desert her parents, and to live with him upon pretence 
of a clandestine marriage." The Council issued a warrant to have the offender 
imprisoned in the Tolbooth, but he appears afterwards to have settled down in 
Edinburgh as a dancing-master. 2 

Again, in 1684, Cornelius a-Tilbourne, a German mountebank, applied to 
jthe Privy Council for licence to erect a stage in Edinburgh. The College 
of Physicians was now in existence, and opposed the application, which, 
nevertheless, was granted. He had previously made a successful experiment 
upon himself in London by taking poisons administered by the physicians 
there, after he had drunk an antidote, and the king had granted him a medal 
and chain. In Edinburgh he expressly excluded mercury, aqua fortis and 
other corrosives from the trial, but carried out the experiment on his servant. 
The Edinburgh poisons were apparently more effective than those of London, and 
the servant died. 3 

1 Chambers : " Domestic Annals of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1858, Vol. II., p. 347- 

2 Chambers : Op. cit., pp. 383 and 384. 
* Chambers : Op. cit., p. 458. 



The state of medicine about 1670 outside Scotland was as follows : Sydenham General 

was practising in London. Harvey's discovery had been published over 40 years 
previously, and was still disputed, though Borelli, by his laborious mathematical 
investigations, had developed its principles into the Iatro-mechanical school of 
thought. Boyle, Mayow, Willis and kindred spirits of the Royal Society of 
London were studying various problems of life and disease. Malpighi and 
Leeuwenhoek were using the earliest microscopes to investigate the structure of 
the bodily fluids and tissues. Sylvius, at Leyden, was founding physiological 
chemistry and introducing the new idea of instruction in the wards of his hospital 
as a part of medical education. 

About 1670, the leading physicians of Edinburgh, moved by a desire to 
reform medicine, set themselves to lay out a Physic Garden and to obtain a 
charter for the institution of a College of Physicians. The men chiefly 
concerned in the movement to establish a Physic Garden were Dr. Robert Sibbald 
and Dr. Andrew Balfour. 

The study of botany was then considered, along with anatomy, the most 
important preliminary to a scientific knowledge of medicine. The surgeons, as 
we have seen, had already made provision for anatomy, and thus it lay with the 
physicians to cultivate botany. Dr. Balfour had settled as a physician in Edinburgh 
in 1667, and in the small garden attached to his house had raised many plants 
never before seen in Scotland. His friend, Mr. Patrick Murray of Livingstone, 
had also developed at his country seat a botanic garden containing over 1000 
specimens of plants. Sibbald and Balfour determined to establish a regular 
Physic Garden, and Sibbald gives the following account of the way in which this 
project started : — 

" Dr. Balfour and I first resolved upon it, and obtained of John Brown, 
gardner of the North yardes in the Abby, ane inclosure of some 40 foot of 
measure every way. We had, by this tyme, become acquaint with Master 
James Sutherland, a youth, who, by his owne industry, had attained great 
knowledge of the plants and of medals, and he undertook the charge of the 
culture of it. By what we procured from Leviston (i.e., Patrick Murray, 
Laird of Livingstone) and other gardens, and brought in from the Country, 
we made a collection of eight or nyne hundred plants ther. 

" We got several of the Physitians in town to concur in the designe, and 
to contribute so much a yeer for the charge of the culture and importation of 
foreigne plants. 

" Some of the Chirurgeon Apothecaryes, who then had much power in 
the town, opposed us, dreading that it might usher in a Coledge of Physitians, 
hot, by the care and dexterity of Doctor Balfour, these were made friends 
to the designe, and assisted us in obtaining of the Counsell of Edinburgh ane 
leese to Mr. James Sutherland, for nynteen years, of the garden belonging 
to Trinity Hospitall, and adjacent to it. And Doctor Balfour and I, with 
some others, were appointed by the Town Counsell visitors of the garden. 

state of 

of a physic 

First garden 
at Holvrood 

garden at 



Professor of 

Third garden 
at the 

" After this, we applied ourselves with much care to embellish the fabrick 
of the garden, and import plants from all places into this garden, and procured 
that severall of the nobility concurred in contributing for some years, for the 
encouradgement of Mr. Sutherland ; some gyfts lykewise were obtained of 
money from the Exchequer, and the Lords of Session and Faculty of Advocates, 
for that use ; and by Dr. Balfour's procurement, considerable pacquets of 
seeds and plants were yeerly sent hither from abroad, and the students of 
medicine got directions to send them from all places they travelled to, wher 
they might be had, by which means the garden increased considerably 
every veer." 1 

These two early Physic Gardens were situated, the first north-west of Holyrood 
Abbey, on a spot occupied at present by small stretches of turf ; the second is shown 

as the Garden of Trinity Hospital in 
Gordon of Rothemay's plan of Edin- 
burgh. Here, in 1676, James Sutherland 
was established as professor of botany, 
and in 1683 published his " Hortus 
Medicus Edinburgensis." He had a 
salary of 20 pounds from the city, 
and taught the science of herbs to 
students for small fees. In 1689, 
during the siege of the Castle, it was 
thought necessary to drain the North 
Loch, and the water for several days 
ran over the Physic Garden at Trinity 
Hospital, completely spoiling it. Suther- 
land, therefore, in 1695, extended his 
Garden at Holyrood, which seems to 
have become a very fine place. 

This garden, after that of Oxford 
(founded in 1632), is the oldest botanic 
garden in Great Britain. Sutherland 
was also appointed King's Botanist for 
Scotland, a post which he held till 
the death of Queen Anne in 1714. 
In 1715, he was succeeded in this post by William Arthur (1680-1716), who, 
however, being implicated in a Jacobite plot to seize Edinburgh Castle, lost 
the post, to which Charles Alston was appointed in 1716. 

In 1695, the Town Council, after stating that "the Physic Garden is in great 
reputation both in England and in foreign nations by the care and knowledge of 
Mr. James Sutherland," appointed him still more formally professor of botany 
in the Town's College, and confirmed to him the pension of £20 sterling annually. 

John Hope (1725-178 6) 

(From Kay's " Portraits ") 

I he Autobiography of Sir Robert Sibbald, Knt., M.D.," printed 1833, pp. 21 and 22. 



He was now also charged with the duty of looking after the College yard or garden, 
a piece of ground laid out in 1702 to the east of the Town's College, and he was 
to have a room in the College for keeping books and seeds. He also at this time Fourth 
received an appointment from the Incorporation of Surgeons to instruct their ? arden 
apprentices and pupils in botany in the surgeons' garden at a fee of one guinea sJgL 
each. In 1705, however, a complaint was made that he had neglected the garden Ha)1 
of the Town's College, of which he was keeper ; the Town Council immediately 
cut down his salary, and he resigned office as professor, retaining, however, the 
appointment as King's Botanist and charge of the Royal Garden at Holyrood.' 

It is to be noted that in the early days there were four distinct botanic or physic 
gardens in Edinburgh. 

Plan of Edinburgh in 1765 
The College, Royal Infirmary and Surgeons' Hall with the Surgeons' Garden are seen close to 
the southern wall of the city. 1. Minto House (later used by James Syme as a Hospital): 
20, Monro's theatre, built in the College Garden; 87, South Gray's Close where William 
Cullen practised : 90. Fountain Close, at the foot of which was the original hall of the 
Royal College of Physicians 



Transfer of 
garden to 
Leith Walk 



Sutherland was succeeded by Dr. Charles Preston, and he in turn in 1712 by his 
brother George Preston in the chair of botany. The latter did much to improve 
the garden at Trinity Hospital, and built a greenhouse in the College Garden, for 
which he received an allowance of £10 yearly from the Town Council. He also 
kept a shop on the north side of the High Street, opposite the head of Blackfriars 
Wynd, where he sold " all sorts of spices, sugars, tea, coffee, chacolet, etc." 1 

When George Preston retired in 1729, the Town Council appointed Charles 
Alston as professor of medicine and botany in the university, and in charge of 
the Town's Garden at Trinity Hospital. The College Garden had by this time 
fallen into disorder, and had been taken over by Professors Plummer and Innes 
for growing medicinal plants in connection with their class. Alston was already, 
since 1716, King's Botanist in charge of the Royal Garden at Holyrood. The 
university professorship was thus joined with the regius professorship at the 
Holyrood Garden, and the two offices have continued thus united in one person 
to the present time. 2 

In 1761, John Hope (1725-1786) succeeded Alston in the two offices. Finding 
that the gardens at Trinity Hospital and Holyrood were unsuited for the development 
which had taken place, Hope obtained a grant from the Treasury and removed the 
Garden to a site on the west of Leith Walk, near the present Gayfield Square. 
The old Garden at Trinity College disappeared about 1770. 3 

Professor Hope was succeeded in 1786 by Daniel Rutherford, who, although 
professor of botany and medicine, was much more of a chemist, and was the 
discoverer of nitrogen gas. Subsequent professors were Robert Graham and 
John Hutton Balfour, known to his students as " Old Woody Fibre." The 
present Botanic Garden in Inverleith Row was formed in 1822-1824, an d the 
adjoining Arboretum was opened in 188 1, as the result of purchases by the Town 
Council and the Crown, the whole area having become Crown property in 1876. 

From 1738 to 1879, the professors had been charged with the duty and title 
of professing medicine and botany. Balfour was succeeded in 1879 by Alexander 
Dickson as professor of botany ; he in turn, in 1888, by Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour, 
son of John Hutton Balfour, and he in turn was succeeded in 1922 by 
William Wright Smith. The subject latterly was regarded as belonging to 
the faculty of science. 

Royal College of Physicians 
The Royal College of Physicians was instituted as follows. The regulation 
of surgical practice at Edinburgh by the Guild of Surgeons and Barbers, and their 
increasing efforts to develop a knowledge of anatomy, have already been described. 
The regulation of medicine was another important step necessary before a medical 
school could be constructed. The early Edinburgh physicians had mostly obtained 
a knowledge of medicine on the Continent, and during the 17th century several 
capable and distinguished physicians practised in Edinburgh. As early as 1617, 

1 Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," Vol. II., p. izi. 

1 Guide to the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, H. M. Stationery Office, 1927, p.v. 

3 Grant : " Old and New Edinburgh," Vol. I., p. 363. 



when King James re-visited Scotland, an attempt had been made to found a 
College of Physicians at Edinburgh, but it had been opposed by the universities 
and the bishops. 

King James had gone so far as to issue an order to the Scottish Parliament 
for the establishment of a College of Physicians in Edinburgh. In this, after reciting 
the evils which the community had suffered from the intrusion of irregular practi- 
tioners, he directed that a College of Physicians should be formed, seven persons 
appointed to examine those who proposed to practise medicine, and that it should be 
made illegal for any person to exercise the art and science of physic within Edinburgh 
and its neighbourhood unless possessed of the diploma of the College. It was 
also suggested that such a College should appoint yearly three of its number to visit 
the apothecaries' shops in the burgh, to examine the drugs exposed for sale, and 
to destroy such as might be found corrupt or inefficient. 

No action having been taken by the Scottish Parliament in view of the 
opposition which was offered, a second attempt was made in 1630, when King 
Charles I. referred the matter to the Privy Council. Owing to the unsettled state 
of public affairs, nothing further was done in his reign. 

The matter was taken up for a short time by Cromwell during the Protectorate, 
and a patent was made out in 1656 for the institution of a College of Physicians 
" who shall have power and authority to oversie, rule and order, what may 
concerne the right administratioune of Physike to the people of Scotland in all 
pairts and places of the said nation, with power to them to censure and punish 
all persons who shall presume to practise, exercise, or profess Physike or give 
Medicines, or ordaine Physicall Praescriptiones in any pairt or place in Scotland, 
being not members of the said Colledge, or not being approved and licensed by 
the said Praesident and Colledge under their Common Seall." The power to 
practise the art of surgery and the right to supervise apothecaries, and also the 
right to teach anatomy, were likewise to be conferred upon the College. 

The other public medical bodies, however, and especially the surgeons of 
Edinburgh, who had adopted the work of apothecaries as part of their practice, 
made considerable opposition, and before the differences were ended, the death of 
the Protector put a stop for the time to the whole scheme. 

The application for a Charter in the time of the Parliament was signed by 
18 doctors, whose names are as follows : — 

A. Ramsay D. Balfour D. Oughterlony 

Al. Meirting Win. Macgill T. Gordon 

Ja. Leslie J. Saintserf Silvester Rattray 

Thomas Gleg Ro. Strachane D. Moire 

Tho. Forbesse Alexr. Yeoman George Purvass 

Ro. Burnett D. Bethune D. Patone. 1 

According to Sir Robert Sibbald, the most active in the matter was Dr. George 
Purvass, but the first, and presumably therefore the most outstanding, was 


attempt to 
found a 
College of 
by James VI. 

attempt by 
Charles I. 


attempt by 

1 Sibbald : " Memoirs," Edinburgh, 1887, p. 15. 



Alexander Ramsay, M.D., a native of Forfarshire, and the descendant of an old 
family in which one of the members, Neiss de Ramsay, had been physician to 
King Alexander II. in the 13th century. 1 Alexander Ramsay had graduated 
M.D. at Basel in 1610, and had become a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians 
of London in 1618. In 1635, he was one of the physicians to Charles I. 2 

The matter was again dropped for more than 20 years, but was revived when 
Prince James came to Scotland as High Commissioner for King Charles II. 

Alexander Ramsay 

(Original portrait in possession of Sir J. I)oitglas Ramsay, Hart., of Baniff) 

Success of sir Robert Sibbald gives an account of the help afforded by Prince James, 

Sibbaki er Duke of York, and his physician, Sir Charles Scarborough, in obtaining a patent 
for the erection of the College of Physicians of Edinburgh. After much opposition 
from the surgeons and the Town Council of Edinburgh, as well as the universities 
and the bishops, and after many conferences, the patent finally received the 
king's signature and the Great Seal upon the 29th November, 1681, and the 
College of Physicians was then established. In the following year, Drs. Sibbald, 
Stevenson and Balfour were knighted by the Duke of York. 

1 Warden : " Angus or Forfarshire," Dundee, 1881, Vol. II., p. 349. 

' Munk : " Roll of the Royal Collide « »t I'hvsii ians of London," London, 1878, Vol. I., p. 174. 



The following is Sir Robert Sibbald's account of the matter : — 

" This gave the first ryse to our meetings thereabout, and his Royal 
Highnesse, the Duke of York, coming to Scotland shortly after, and 
Sir Charles Scarborough, his Majesties first Physitian, following him soon 
after that, wee consulted with Sir Charles, and found him our great friend, 
and very ready to give us his best assistance, with the King, and the Duke who 
was by this tyme High Commissioner. There was great opposition made to 
the designe by the town of Edinburgh, who concurred with the Chirurgion 
Apothecaries, and by the universities, with whom the Archbishops and 
Bishops, and some of the nobility, joined. I gott the Earle of Perth, and his 
brother Melfort, to be our great friends, and they brought over many of the 
nobility to favour the designe ; and I, having recovered ane warrand of 
King James the Sixt, of happie memorie, derected to the Commissioner and 
Estaits of Parliament, then sitting in Scotland, dated the 3d of July, 1621, 
with ane reference by the Parliament thereanent, to the Lords of Secret 
Counsell, with power to doe therein what they thought fitt, and that their 
determination therein sould have the form of ane act of Parliament, dated 
the second of August, 1621, produced this to his Royall Highness, who, so soon 
as he saw it superscribed by King James, said with much satisfaction, he 
knew his grandfather's hand, and he would see our byseness done, and from 
that moment acted vigourously for us, so that it was resolved there sould be 
ane colledge of Physitians, butt it took a long tyme of dispute befor the 
counsell, in answering the objections of the Chirurgeons and of the Town of 
Edinburgh against it. We soon did agree with the universities and Bishops, 
and there were some conditiones insert in the patent in their favours, and 
they became strong solicitours for us, so that after long debates, the matter 
was concerted, and the draught of the patent agreed to by the Counsell, was 
sent up, and very soon thereafter, by his Royall Highness his procurement, 
returned signed by the King ; the very next day I turned it into Latin, and 
the day thereafter gave it in to the Chancery chamber, and waited upon it 
till it was written in parchment, and ready for the great seall, which was 
appended to it upon the 29th of November, 1681, being St. Andrew's day ; 
it cost a great deal of money to defray the charges of the plea, and for getting 
it signed at court, and sealed here." 1 

The charter given to the Royal College of Physicians in 1681, began by stating Charter of 
the necessity that existed for ascertaining that those who designed to practise any 1681 
profession should be examined as to their capacity for doing so, and added that 
in medicine many ill-qualified persons exercised the healing art. It ordained that 
the College should consist of certain individuals, who were named, and of others 
who might be chosen by them as colleagues and Fellows of their society within the 
city of Edinburgh, its suburbs and liberties. It inhibited under penalties anyone 
from practising medicine within the jurisdiction of the College who had not 
obtained its licence or diploma. It also gave to the College power to examine 

1 " The Autobiography of Sir Robert Sibbald, Knt., M.D.," printed 1833, pp. 30-31. 




The original 

Sir Robert 

His medical 

along with a magistrate and chemist the medicines kept in the apothecaries' shops, 
and to destroy such as were not found to be of good quality, as well as to examine 
anyone who proposed to open an apothecary's shop, in regard to his competent 
knowledge of drugs. 

The charter also exempted the Fellows of the College from being cited as jurors 
on assizes, or from being called out to watch or ward. 

In order to remove the opposition of the universities to the granting of the 
charter, clauses were inserted that the College of Physicians should have no power 
to erect a medical school, that its patent should be without prejudice to the rights 
and privileges of the universities, and that the graduates of the universities might 
claim to be licensed by the College without examination and without fee. 

A number of these provisions gradually became obsolete in consequence of 
social changes, and, after the passing of the Universities' Act in 1858, it became 
desirable to obtain a new charter. The new charter was accordingly obtained 
on 31st October, 1861, and gave to the College the right to all property belonging 
to it under the former charter, the power to admit new fellows, members 
and licentiates, and to exercise disciplinary control over its Fellows, members and 
licentiates, as well as to make bye-laws for promoting the science of medicine and 
ordering its practice. 

By a short supplementary charter, dated 8th January, 1920, power was 
given to the College to admit women as Fellows and members on the same terms 
as men. 

The complete list of the 21 Fellows mentioned in the original patent is 
as follows : — 

David Hay 
Thomas Burnet 
Matthew Brisbaine 
Archibald Stevensone 
Robert Sibbald 
James Livingstone 
Andrew Balfoure 
Robert Crawfurd 
Robert Trotter 
Matthew Sinclare 

Alexander Cranstone 
John Hutton 
John M'Gill 
John Lermonth 
William Stevensone 
James Halket 
William Wright 
Patrick Halyburton 
William Lauder 
Archibald Pitcairne. 

James Stewart 

Sir Robert Sibbald (1641—1722), was the son of Mr. David Sibbald of the 
family of Rankillor, and from his mother, Margaret Boyd, he inherited the house 
and estate of Kipps, a short distance south of Linlithgow. He had gone through 
a theological course in Edinburgh, and, in 1660, proceeded to Leyden to study 
medicine. In his autobiography, he says : — 

" I stayed at Leyden ane yeer and a half, and studied anatomie and chirurgie, under 
the learned Professor Van Home. I studied the plants under Adolphus Vorstius, who 
had been then Botanick professor 37 yeers, and I studied the institutions and 
practice, under Sylvius, who was famous then. I saw twentye-three human bodies 



dissected by him in the Hospitall which I frequented with him. I saw some dissected 
publickly by Van Horn. I was fellow student with Steno, who became famous after- 
wards for his wrytings. He dissected in my chamber sometymes, and showed me there, 
the ductus salivalis superior, he had discovered. I frequented ane apothecaryes shop, 
and saw the materia medica and the ordinary compositiones made. I studied Chimie, 
under a German called Witichius, and after he went away, under Margravius, brother 
to him who wrott the naturall history of Brasile. Sometyme I heard the lessons of Vander 
Linden, who was famous for critical learning. 

" I composed ther (the last summer I stayed ther,) Theses de variis Tabis speciebus. 
Sylvius was praeses when I defended them publickly in the schools. ... In September, 
1661, I went from Leyden for Paris. . . . 

" I stayed some nyne moneths at Paris, where I was well acquainted with the famous 
Guido Patin, who lent me bookes, and gave me for a tyme the use of his manuscript 
written for the direction of his two sons, Robert and Charles (who were then Doctors of the 
Faculty of Paris), in their studies. I studied the plants under Junquet in the King's 
Garden, and heard the publick lessons of Monsieur de la Chambre the younger, and 
Monsieur Bazalis, and I frequently was present at ther publick disputes, and visited then 
the Hotel de Dieu, and the Hospital of the Charity. 

*' From Paris I went to Angiers with letters of recommendation from Guido Patin to 
Bailif Sentor, the Dean of Faculty. I stayed a moneth ther, and was examined by his 
son, by Ferrand Joiselin and Boisenute, and gott my patent of Doctor ther." 1 

Such was a medical course in the 17th century. Sibbald had a large and 
influential practice in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, was appointed by Charles II. 
Geographer Royal for Scotland, and left considerable literary remains, dealing 
especially with the natural history and archaeology of Scotland. 

Four years after the erection of the College of Physicians, the Town Council Appointed 
decided to appoint a medical professor, and a minute of the Council, dated 25th P r °f essoro 

...... . . . medicine 

March, 1685, records that the university is " indowed with the previleges of erecting 
professions of all sorts, particularly of Medicen," and that there is " a necessity 
ther be ane professour of Physick in the said Colledge, therefor as Patrons of the 
said Colledge and University unanimously elect, nominate, and choyse the sd 
Sir Robert Sibbald to be Professor of Physick in ye sd University." On 4th 
September, 16S5, the Town Council Minutes record that " the Counsell appoynts two 
Professors of Medicen to be joyned with Sir Robert Sibbald in the University." 
For this purpose Dr. James Halket and Dr. Archibald Pitcairne were chosen. 2 

It is uncertain to what extent these professors availed themselves of the rooms 
provided for them in the Town's College by giving lectures to students. They 
had no salary, and though there is no record of any definite course to students, 
Sibbald and Halket took part in the discourses at the College of Physicians, and 
Pitcairne organised and took part in the anatomical demonstrations in the College 
of Surgeons. On 14th February, 1706, twenty-one years after his appointment 
as professor, Sir Robert Sibbald published a Latin advertisement in the Edinburgh 
Coitrant, in which he states that he will begin to teach a private class in medicine 
in the following spring, and he lays down as a preliminary condition that the young 

1 " The Autobiography of Sir Robert Sibbald, Knt., M.D.," printed 1833, pp. 16 and 17. 

2 Peel Ritchie : " The Early Days of the Royall Colledge of l'hisitians," Edinburgh, 1899, p. 25. 



His works 

men who join the class must be skilled in the Latin and Greek languages, the whole 
of philosophy and the fundaments of mathematics. To such, who practically 
had to be graduates in arts, he was apparently prepared to pour forth the stores 
of his knowledge on medicine and natural history. 1 

In 1686, Sir Robert 
Sibbald was persuaded 
by the Earl of Perth to 
embrace the Roman 
Catholic faith, but having 
been hunted out of his 
house by the Edinburgh 
mob, and having there- 
after made a visit to 
London, where, as he 
says, " I perceaved also 
the whole people of 
England was under a 
violent restraint then, 
and I foirsaw they would 
overturne the Govern- 
ment," he resolved to 
return to the Church 
in which he was born, 
and, as he quaintly 
remarks : " After my re- 
turne, it pleased God the 
popish interest decayed 
dayly, and good men 
thought I by my returne 
had done it more damage 
then my joining had 
profited them." 2 The 
Revolution occurred two 
years later. 

Sir Robert Sibbald, 

when in London in 1686, was made an honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians 
of London. He was much engaged in the preparation of the Edinburgh Pharma- 
copoeia, which was ready by 1689, although Sibbald adds : "by the malice of 
some, it was laid aside for ten yeers therafter." This was apparently due to the 
separation of the Stevensone faction from the College. He was a copious writer, 
his chief work being " Scotia Illustrata, sive prodromus historiae naturalis," 
published in 1684. Valuable treatises dealing with historical and archa?ological 

Sir Robert Sibbald ( 1 6 4 1 - 1 7 2 2 J 

1 Grant : " Story of the University of Edinburgh," London, 1884, Vol. I., p. 227. 
1 " The Autobiography of Sir Robert Sibbald, Knt., M.D.," printed 1833, pp. 35-41 


matters are found in his " History of Fife and Kinross," " Roman Ports on the 
Firth," "History of Linlithgow and Stirling," "Description of the Isles of Orkney" 
and " Account of Scottish Writers." Several of his works still exist only in manu- 
script in the National Library, and one in that of the College of Physicians at 
Edinburgh. His " Autobiography," which gives interesting information regarding 
his times, was first published in 1833. 

He died in 1722, when his library was purchased by the Faculty of Advocates 
for £342 17s. sterling, a very large sum in those days. 

Dr. Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713) was perhaps the most celebrated Scottish Archibald 
physician of the time, both at home and abroad, and he, more than anyone else, Pitcairne 
may justly be regarded as the originator of the Edinburgh medical school. His 
father, Mr. Alexander Pitcairne, was a baillie of the city and the proprietor of 
Pitcairne in Fifeshire, an estate to which Dr. Archibald Pitcairne ultimately 
succeeded. He was laureated M.A. at Edinburgh University in 1671, and 
went through a course of Divinity, his father's intention being that he should 
enter the Church. 

Later he decided to follow the pursuit of law, for which he studied first in His medical 
Edinburgh and afterwards in Paris. Meeting some friends who were medical educatl0n 
students in the latter city, he was induced by them to attend the hospitals in 
Paris for some months, after which he returned to Edinburgh. Here he applied 
himself to botany, pharmacy, materia medica and mathematics, but returned 
in 1675 to Paris in order to follow the study of medicine. He graduated M.D. 
at Rhcims in 1680, then returned to Scotland and began to practise in Edinburgh, 
where he immediately acquired a wide reputation. In the following year, on the 
foundation of the Royal College of Physicians, he became the youngest of its 
original Fellows, being then aged 29, and a graduate in medicine of little 
more than one year. 

On the inducement of his friend David Gregory, later professor of mathematics His support 
at Edinburgh, and afterwards Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford, he of Harvey s 
devoted himself with great assiduity to mathematics, 1 becoming, like Borelli in 
Italy, one of the founders of the Iatro-mechanical or Iatro-mathematical school 
of thought. The system developed from Harvey's demonstration of the circulation ; 
for when the importance of this dynamic principle was grasped, in contradistinction 
to that of the leisurely ebb and flow of humours, its adherents attempted to prove 
that all the bodily activities, including even those of the nervous system and of 
digestion, were mere mechanical exercises. Although this idea could not persist 
for long, it formed for the century after Harvey a fruitful working hypothesis. 

Pitcairne threw himself into this controversy with zest, beginning his career 
as a physician by publishing his " Solutio Problematis de Inventoribus," in which 
he emphasised the importance of Harvey's discovery regarding the circulation 
of the blood, which was at that time by no means universally accepted. The 
prominence which he gained as a controversialist on this subject was perhaps in 

1 Piteairn : " The History of the Fife Pitcairns," Edinburgh, igos, p. 370. 



professor at 

His interest 
in teaching 
of anatomy 

part responsible, in addition to the Town Council influence which he possessed, 
in gaining for him, at the early age of 32, the appointment, along with 
Sir Robert Sibbald and Dr. James Halket, of professor of medicine in the Town's 
College, an appointment made in the year 1685. 

Before Leeuwenhoek had demonstrated the capillaries, Pitcairne, by a kind of 
mathematical reasoning similar to that adopted by Harvey, had indicated the 
nature of the minute vessels through which the fine particles of blood must pass, 
and, in particular, he had established the view that there existed no gross anasto- 
mosis between the arteries and the veins, for which many persons contended, 
even of those who adopted Harvey's principle of circulation in a general way. 1 

Pitcairne's eminence, as one of the protagonists of the Iatro-mathematical 
school, procured for him, in 1692, an invitation from the University of Leyden 
to assume the chair of medicine at that celebrated university, which he accepted. 
There he lectured till 1693, when he returned to Edinburgh. The fact that the 
infant school of Edinburgh furnished a professor to the old-established chair in 
Leyden must have given a great uplift to the former, still more the fact that 
Pitcairne had among his pupils many men who afterwards rose to fame, notably 
Mead and Boerhaave. Pitcairne's writings included numerous polemical 
pamphlets, poems and dissertations on medical subjects, as, for example, on 
the " Quantity of the Blood," the " Motion of the Stomach," and especially 
a dissertation upon the " Cure of Fevers." This was an important contribution to 
the medicine of that day, when fevers formed two-thirds of all diseases. Pitcairne 
adopted the attitude of Sydenham towards the treatment of fevers by methods 
of cold, depletion and evacuation. In 1695, he published at Edinburgh his 
" Dissertatio de Curatione Febrium, quae per Evacuationes Instituitur," which 
was continued later by other theses on the same topic, the whole collection being 
finally published in a quarto volume at Rotterdam in 1701 under the title 
" Dissertationes Medicae." His attitude is indicated by the title of an attack made 
on him by Sir Edward Eizat in "Apollo Mathematicus, or the Art of Curing 
Diseases by the Mathematics " (1695). This controversy was one of the causes 
of friction within the College of Physicians, to which reference is made later, and 
which caused Pitcairne's non-attendance at the meetings for several years. 

Pitcairne had made only a short stay at Leyden, and had returned to Scotland 
for family reasons. His first wife having died, he had become engaged to Elizabeth, 
a daughter of Sir Archibald Stevensone, shortly before taking up his duties at Leyden 
in 1692, and her friends being unwilling for her to go to Holland, Pitcairne resigned 
his professorship and returned to Edinburgh in 1693. 

After the quarrel in the College of Physicians in 1695, and Pitcairne's adhesion 
to the party of Sir Archibald Stevensone, who absented themselves from the 
College meetings, Pitcairne associated himself with the College of Surgeons, where 

he entered as a Fellow on 16th October, 1701. 
forwarding the study and teaching of anatomy. 

Here he took great interest in 
From the fact of his delivering 

1 Pitcairne: "A Dissertation upon the Circulation of the Blood through the Minutest Vessels of the Body," Works, 
translated, London, 1715. 


i[ the epilogue at the two successful series of anatomical demonstrations held in 
; |1 1702 and 1704 at the College of Surgeons, it is evident that he was the moving 
l l spirit in their organisation. The success of these demonstrations led to the 
I appointment of Robert Eliot as " public dissector " to the Incorporation of Surgeons 
oil and the Town Council in the year 1705. In 1699, Pitcairne received the degree of 
ill M.D. from the University of Aberdeen. 

About this time many of his Latin verses were written, notably a well-known His Latin 
H\. poem on the death of Graham of Claverhouse, which was translated by Dryden. verses 
E i| His Latin poems were highly valued in his time, although Dr. Johnson said " he 
did not allow the Latin poetry of Pitcairne so much merit as has been usually 
(J attributed to it," yet this poem, he admitted, " was very well." 1 

Pitcairne seems to have been a man of great spirits and jovial habits, somewhat His wit 
4 contemptuous of those with whom he did not agree, and inclined to treat them 
tbfl with weapons of wit and sarcasm which provoked fear and dislike among his 
' ill enemies, although he had many devoted friends. He was an avowed Jacobite, 
iilj a political position which was regarded with much disfavour in Scotland 
mm immediately after the Revolution, and he was a strong Episcopalian, reckless in 
iiolj jests against the Calvinistic Presbyterians who formed most of his contemporaries 
(■in Edinburgh. 

As an illustration of the reckless manner in which he displayed his wit, Bower 
u records an incident of Pitcairne being present at an auction sale where a large Bible 
m failed to secure any bids. The Bible being put on one side by the auctioneer, 
^ Pitcairne's loudly expressed comment was " it was no wonder it stuck in their hands, 
!" for the word of the Lord abideth for ever," a jest which proved highly distasteful 
^ to his rigid Calvinistic neighbours. As a result, the Rev. James Webster publicly 
11 accused him of being a professed Deist, and Pitcairne brought an action against 
: him, which was with difficulty settled amicably. 2 

On another occasion Pitcairne aroused much criticism by making his convivial 
habits, which were by no means unusual at that time, a cover for a political 
m indiscretion. He had written to Dr. R. Gray in London, a letter which severely 
;1! criticised the Government, and which fell into the hands of the Scottish Secretary. 

He was apprehended, lodged in the Tolbooth, and on 25th January, 1700, was 
ills brought before the Privy Council on a charge of contravening various statutes 
it' against Leasing Making, that is, venting and circulating reproaches or false reports 
M against the Government. This was a crime for which many persons had suffered 
i|J death in the recent " killing times." 

Pitcairne could not repudiate the authenticity of his letter, he did not make 
is any complaint as to the violation of private correspondence, and he refrained from 
11 : any defence of his remarks. He adopted the unassailable ground that he had 
A written in his cups, that he had no design against the Government, and that he 
51 had no remembrance of his letter, and he accordingly threw himself entirely on 
i the mercy of the Council. He got off with a reprimand from the Lord Chancellor, 

1 Boswell : " The Life of Samuel Johnson," London, 1831, Vol. II., p. 293. 

2 Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," Vol. II., p. 134. 

Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713) 


after giving bond with his friend Sir Archibald Stevensone under 200 pounds 
sterling, to live peacefully under the Government and to consult and contrive 
nothing against it. 1 

Pitcairne died on 23rd October, 1713, aged 61, and was buried in 
Greyfriars churchyard. His tombstone was restored on 25th December, 1800, 
when the Restoration ceremony was celebrated. Pitcairne, being a fervid Jacobite, 
had left a jeroboam of wine with an Edinburgh wine merchant with directions 
that it should be opened " at the Restoration." The exiled house of Stuart 
never having been restored, the restoration of the tombstone was interpreted 
by Dr. Andrew Duncan and a large gathering of the Edinburgh medical 
fraternity, as satisfying the terms of Pitcairne's will, and his memory was then 
inly celebrated by the opening of the jeroboam and drinking of the contents. 

Sir Thomas Burnet (1638-1704) was the son of an eminent lawyer, Sir Thomas 
Robert Burnet, who was raised to the Scottish Bench in 1661 as Lord Crimond. Burnet 
The physician ultimately succeeded to the estate of Crimond in Aberdeenshire. 
A younger brother was Gilbert Burnet, professor of theology in Glasgow, 
historian, politician and Bishop of Salisbury. After obtaining the M.A. degree, 
Thomas Burnet studied medicine at Montpellier, where he graduated M.D. 
in 1659. He afterwards settled in Edinburgh, where he obtained a distinguished 
position as a physician. He became in succession physician to Charles IE, 
James VII., William III., and afterwards to Queen Anne. 

His "Thesaurus Medicinas Practical, " a popular text-book on medicine in His works 
its time, was published in London in 1673, and had reached a sixth edition by 
1703. His other chief work, " Hippocrates Contractus," was published at 
Edinburgh in 1685, and went through several editions in London, and, after his 
death, on the Continent. He was elected president of the College of Physicians 
in 1696, and dying in 1704, was buried in Greyfriars churchyard. 

Sir Archibald Stevensone (1629-1710), was the first president of the College, Sir 
appointed in 1681. He was a son of the Rev. Andro Stevinson, one of the regents stevensone 
in the Town's College. He studied at Leyden in the year 1659, his name being 
entered in the Album as Archibald Stephanides, and he may have graduated 
at this university. He was the earliest recorded physician to George Heriot's 
Hospital, but does not seem to have left any literary remains. 

Sir Andrew Balfour (1630-1694), was the youngest son of Sir Michael Balfour Sir Andrew 
of Denmiln, Fife, and was brother of Sir James Balfour, the Lyon King-of-arms. 
He graduated in Arts at St. Andrews, and, about 1650, proceeded to London, where 
he made the acquaintance of Harvey, Scarborough and other distinguished 
medical men. Afterwards proceeding to France, he studied medicine at Blois 
and Paris. He ultimately graduated at the University of Caen in 1661, when 
he was in his 31st year and had spent 11 years in the study of medicine. 
Returning to England in 1662, he became companion to the Earl of Rochester, 
and spent four years with him in foreign travel. Returning again to Scotland 


1 Chambers : " Domestic Annals," Edinburgh, 1861, Vol. III., p. 223. 



in 1666, he practised for a time as a physician in St. Andrews, employing his leisure 
hours in the study of anatomy and natural history. 

About 1668, he removed to Edinburgh, and established a friendship with his 
kinsman Robert Sibbald, and with Patrick Murray, Laird of Livingstone, an 
association from which sprang the Physic Garden already mentioned. In 
Edinburgh he seems to have been highly successful, obtaining a large and lucrative 
practice, and he took a prominent share in the foundation of the Royal College 
of Physicians, of which he became the third president in 1685. He also took a 
great share in the preparation of the College's Pharmacopoeia. In 1684 he gave a 
discourse before the College upon one of the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, which 
" was very satisfying to them." The only book associated with his name is a 
Continental guide-book, prepared for his friend Patrick Murray, in the form of 
three letters giving an account of London, Paris and other cities, advice for making 
the grand tour in France, and advice for travelling into Italy, which was published 
in 1700, after his death, by his son. 
Sir David Sir David Hay, whose name stands first in the list of Fellows, was a descendant 

of the house of Erroll, and resided in the High Street, near the entrance to the 
modern Cockburn Street. He was evidently considered one of the four chief 
physicians in Edinburgh, for along with Drs. Burnet, Stevensone and Balfour, 
he was consulted by the Court of Session " anent the true limits and distinctions 
of Chirurgery and Pharmacy " in an action raised by the chirurgeons of 
Edinburgh against the apothecaries in 1681. He was one of his Majesty's 
physicians-in-ordinary in 1684, and was presumably knighted on this account. 

The general meeting of physicians which was held at Dr. Hay's house in 
connection with the Court of Session case regarding chirurgeon apothecaries, was 
of importance, because at this meeting Dr. Robert Sibbald "took the occasion to 
represent to them that this being the first tyme we had all mett, I thought it was 
our interest to improve the meeting to some furder use, and I downright proposed 
we might take into consideration the establishment of a Colledge to secure our 
priviledges belonged to us as doctors, and defend us against the incroachments of 
the Chirurgeon Apothecaries, which were insupportable." 
Dr. Matthew Dr. Matthew Brisbane was a son of the Rev. Matthew Brisbane, parson of 
Erskinc, and graduated M.D. at Utrecht in 1661. Although he was one of the 
original Fellows of the College of Physicians, he, along with Sir David Hay, declined 
to pay his share of the preliminary expenses, and these two were accordingly regarded 
as honorary Fellows. He does not appear to have taken much interest in the 
College, and he moved to Glasgow, joining the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons 
there, and becoming town's physician to Glasgow in 1682. He was involved in 
the famous Bargarran witchcraft case of 1696, and his son, Dr. Thomas Brisbane, 
was the first professor of anatomy and botany in the University of Glasgow. 

Dr. James Livingstone was a councillor and censor of the College at the time of 
its erection, but he died in the following year. 

Dr. Robert Crawfurd appears to have studied medicine at Leyden in 1668, 
and was a member of the committee appointed to produce the Pharmacopoeia. 




In 1684, he gave a discourse upon " The Nature and Use of the Pancreatic Juice," 
but his name does not appear in the minutes after this year, and he probably died 
soon afterwards. 

Dr. Robert Trotter (1648-1727), graduated M.D. at the University of Leyden The " Ryot 
in 1672. He was one of the Pharmacopoeia committee, took part in the discourses j? 0 ^„ e .. 
of the College, and was elected president in 1694 and 1695. He had a second period ° 6 ge 
of office as president from 1700 to 1702. During his presidency in 1695, a schism 
took place in the College. The dispute appears to have arisen originally over so 
appaiently small a matter as to whether the examiners for the admission of 
Fellows should be appointed as each candidate presented himself, or whether a 
new system should be introduced appointing examiners for a whole year. 
Dr. Trotter, Sir Thomas Burnet, Sir Robert Sibbald, and Drs. St. Clair, Cranston, 
Halket, Lauder, Eccles, Dicksone, Olyphant and Smelholm had a meeting in 
" ye President's lodging," and decided to abide by the original law, but another 
section of the Fellows, including Sir Archibald Stevensone and Dr. Pitcairne, were 
anxious to have the law changed. 

Sir Archibald Stevensone took an extreme step to prevent the meeting being 
held, for he " denyed ye keyes of the Colledge," which were in his possession, and 
as the College at that time formed part of the house that he occupied, the meeting 
had to be held in Dr. Trotter's house. The dispute thus started, continued for 
several years, and involved a lawsuit to recover the keys and papers of the College 
from Sir Archibald Stevensone. The College was also divided upon the subject 
of the treatment of fevers, Pitcairne being the chief exponent of Sydenham's views 
for treating these by evacuant remedies. His " Disputatio de curatione Febrium," 
published in 1695, was attacked by various members of the other party, notably 
by Sir Edward Eizat in his " Apollo Mathematicus," which was answered by a 
supporter of Pitcairne, Dr. George Hepburn, a recently elected Fellow of the 
College, in another pamphlet bearing the title " Tarugo Unmasked, or an Answer 
to a late Pamphlet, entitled Apollo Mathematicus." 

This was also published in 1695, and in it Dr. Hepburn " endeavoured to 
expose the cunning and address of Sir Edward Eizat in studying to attain 
his objects as a Medical Practitioner." This pamphlet got Dr. Hepburn 
into serious trouble, for a committee was appointed to examine the pamphlet and 
reported that it was censurable. The author was accordingly cited to appear 
before the College and " to answer what is libelled against him." Pitcairne 
attempted to stay these violent proceedings by presenting a protestation against 
the president (Dr. Trotter). This protestation being reported by the committee 
to be " a calumnious, scandalous, false and arrogant paper, refusing the authority 
of the President and Colledge," the College suspended Dr. Pitcairne " from voting 
in ye Colledge, or sitting in any meeting thereof, till he give satisfaction to ye 
Colledge." In the same year (1695) Dr. Olyphant, the treasurer, was also 
suspended for contumacy. 

In the following year Pitcairne published a severe criticism of Sibbald's 
" Prodromus Historian Naturalis Scotia?," which presumably was a retaliation 



Dr. James 

for Sibbald's having ridiculed Pitcairne's application of geometry to physic. 
In December, 1695, when the College met to carry through the annual 
elections, Dr. Trotter was re-elected president, but the meeting, which is 
in a later minute designated as " a ryot in the Colledge," was so turbulent 
that it was necessary to secure the interference of one of the baillies and 
some of the town officers. The faction to which Pitcairne belonged accord- 
ingly withdrew to the house of Sir Archibald Stevensone, and elected him 
as their president. 

Matters were not composed till the year 1704, when in the presidency of 
Dr. Dundas, a vote of amnesty was passed, and the suspension of the recalcitrant 
members was removed. 
After a long absence, 
Sir Archibald Stevensone 
and Dr. Pitcairne again 
took part in the meeting 
of 30th November, 1704, 
and the elections were 
quietly carried through, 
Dr. Halket being elected 

Dr. James Halket is 
mentioned several times in 
the minutes of the Royal 
College of Physicians. He 
was born in 1655, studied 
at Leyden in 1675, and as 
the last mention of him in 
the minutes is made in 
the year 1710, he probably 
died soon afterwards. The 
College had early begun 
to arrange for discourses 
by various Fellows in 
the College, and, in 1684, 
Dr. Halket gave a dis- 
course De Peculiaribus 
Infantiitm Morbis, while 
in 1706, as president, he 
again gave a discourse on 
the treatment of Volvulus. 
He was president from 

1704 to 1706, and in 1705, along with Dr. Dundas, he conducted the 
examination (if Mr. David Cockburn, the first person to receive the degree of 
M.D. from the Town's College. 

Robert Clerk 
Flourished about 1689. He was father cf Dr. John Clerk, later 
President of the Royal College of Physicians 
(Original in the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh ) 



The following is an account of a consultation between Halket, Robert Clerk, 
surgeon, and Mr. Hamilton, regarding the fatal illness of Lady Clerk of Penicuik : — 
" We had called for one of the chief Physitians in Town, one Doctor Hackete, and two 
of the chief chyrurgeons, my unckle Robert Clerk, and one Mr. Hamilton, a man much 
emploied in Midwifery. They took all the pains about her they cou'd think of, but I am 
afraied they were too hasty in their operations, by which she lost a vast deal of blood. The 
placenta, it seems, was adhering to the uterus, and this they thought themselves oblidged to 
bring away by force." 1 

Dr. Matthew Sinclaire, or St. Clair, had been a student at Leyden in 1674. He gave 
a discourse on Dysentery, was several times on the Council, and was elected president 
four times: in 1698, 1699, again in 1708, and once more in 1716. He was the father 
of Dr. Andrew St. Clair, who, in 1726, became professor of institutes of medicine in 
the university. He died in 1728, the last survivor of the 21 original Fellows. 

Dr. James Stewart, who had studied medicine at Leyden in 1674, was one of 
the first councillors, but he died early in 1684. 

Dr. Alexander Cranstone was also one of the original councillors and afterwards 
treasurer of the College. In 1684, he gave a discourse on " Mental Alienation," 
and he seems to have been a regular attender at the College meetings up to 1698, 
when he ceased attending, and presumably died shortly afterwards. 

Dr. John Hutton was the first treasurer of the College, but in May, 1682, he 
resigned office as he was " going furth the Kingdome." He was probably the same 
John Hutton who joined the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1690, and 
who was a Doctor of Medicine of Padua and physician to King William III. 2 

Dr. John M'Gill was a consistent attender at meetings in the early years of 
the College, and he gave a discourse, De Chilificatione, in 1684. Later, his name 
disappears from the minutes. He is not to be confused with John M'Gill who was 
an early professor of anatomy to the surgeons and to the Town's College, and who 
joined the College of Surgeons in 1710. 

Dr. John Learmonth was a student at Leyden in 1675, and took part in the 
preparation of the Pharmacopoeia. 

Dr. William Stevensone was the first librarian of the College, appointed in 
1683, and had previously succeeded Dr. Hutton as treasurer. He does not appear 
to have been related to Sir Archibald Stevensone. His name is not mentioned in 
the minutes after 1684. He must have been a man of Covenanting sympathies, for 
Lord Fountainhall records that the Physitians got an order from Court out of 
pique to Stevensone younger, and to others, that no Physitian should practise 
without taking " The Test." 

Dr. William Wright was associated in the preparation of the Pharmacopoeia, 
but does not appear to have held any office in the College. 

Dr. Patrick Halyburton was also a member of the Pharmacopoeia committee. 

Dr. William Lauder was a student at Leyden in 1674, and served for a time on 
the Council of the College. 

1 "Sir John Clerk's Memoirs, 1676-1755," Scottish Hist. Soc., Edinburgh, 1892, p. 40. 
J Mutik : " Roll of Koyal College of Physicians," London, 1878, Vol. I., p. 481. 



of the Phar- 

During the time of Sir Robert Sibbald's presidency of the College of 
Physicians the Pharmacopoeia was completed. The first Pharmacopoeia to appear 
in Britain had been that of London in 1618, but its formulae were not binding upon 
the apothecaries of Scotland. From 1699, when the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia 
first appeared, its successive editions were in general use throughout Scotland 
until the British Pharmacopoeia of the General Medical Council was issued in 1864. 
Subsequent editions of the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia appeared in 1722, 1736, 
1744, 1756, 1774, 1783, 1792, 1795, 1803, 1804, 1817, 1839 an d 1 841. 


DecocJum Pc&tr*le. 
R. Hordei mundatii 

•U varum paflarum exadm- 
tarum ana unciam imam 
Cancarum pinguium N.ofto 
Paftylonrm exoiliromm N 

Fol.Capillorum Veneris, 
Flor.Tuliilaginis ana manipu. 

1 J u in imum. 
Glycyrrhiza; rata. Unci am femii 
Coqudinur in aqua? fontis libris 
fex ad tertia; partis coiiiuniprio- 
nem, fiat Colacura. 




P^rularu.ntxacirutarum P 

'-leco*;o f. fo be Syrupis^MeHitjs «^o^ 


; y rupis,McHitis, Rob 
lY /sapis, Gelatims, & 
Lohoch, five Eedcg- 

Sfufus Bedtrs Jerresh 

I, Sued Hederx terreuris depu" 
rari libras tres- 
Sacchari albiffimi libram u- 
nam fern is. 
Clarificatacoquantur in Syru- 

Eod*m modo pirantur 
SyrupUS Marrubtj aibi, 

P!anragin : s, 



Vacciniorum nigrorum, 

JyrupusMenthx fit ex *quis iucci, 
& Sacchari partibus. 

• Sy- 

EDlNBURGH Pharmacopceia, 1699 < actual size) 

The chief share in revising the Pharmacopceia for the second edition was taken 
by Dr. Learmonth and Dr. John Clerk. The latter was the son of Robert Clerk, 
surgeon, and received an M.D. degree (without examination) from St. Andrews 
University in 171 1. He presented a report in 1721 from the College to the 
Town Council dealing with- the sanitation of the city, and was president of the 
College in 1740. 



Another important activity of this College consisted in the provision of a Provision of 
Dispensary for attendance and supply of medicines to the sick poor, and a dis P ensa ry 
a Repository for furnishing medicines to the sick poor was set up in 1708. 

At the third meeting of the College in 1682, two physicians were appointed to 
serve the poor of the city and suburbs, and these appointments continued to be 
made regularly for many years. 

John Clerk (16 8 9-17 5 7). president, r.C.P. 1740-1744 

(Original in the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh) 

About 1725, the plan of having an infirmary was suggested by the College to Foundation 
several well-disposed persons, and a public meeting was called to make the proposal i n g ri , iarv 
generally known. At a meeting held on 1st February, 1726, it was minuted that 
" The President represented to the Colledge That according to their desire 
He and severall of the members had sett on foot a Subscription for Erecting 

28 4 


and Maintaining ane Infirmary or Hospitall for the sick poor, and had 
pretty good Success, and Recommended to all the members of the Colledge 
To use their best endeavours To procure more Subscriptions for accomplishing 
So good and Charitable a work." 

The collection of subscriptions by the College proceeded, and on ist August, 
1727, the College bound itself " that one or more of their members Shall attend 
the said Hospitall faithfully and freely whout. any prospect of Reward or Sallary 
until the Stock of ye sd Hospitall shall be so Increased that it can affoord a 
Reasonable allowance for one or two phisitians." In November, 1727, the College 
sent a deputation to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland asking the 
support of the Church for the proposed charity, and on 5th August, 1729, a small 
temporary hospital with six beds was established at Robertson's Close in which 
the sick poor were attended by the Fellows of the College. 

When the subscription list had reached the sum of £2000, the College of 
Physicians called the contributors together, a committee was elected, and the 
infirmary was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1736. In recognition of the 
important share which had been taken by the College in the institution of the 
infirmary, a letter was sent by the Managers of the Royal Infirmary and was read 
at a meeting of the College on 7th February, 1738, which stated that the managers 
had resolved that for the future none but Fellows of the College were to act as 
physicians to the Royal Infirmary. 

Continued The help afforded by the College to the rising infirmary did not cease here, 

infirmar* 16 ' i mme diately after the laying of the foundation stone in 1738, the College voted 
30 guineas to the funds of the infirmary, and, in 1742, ordained that every Fellow 
should, on admission to the College, pay 20 shillings to the infirmary, while in 
1785 the College again voted 50 guineas to the funds. Again, in 1819, the College 
voted 50 guineas to the infirmary, and when it had been decided to remove the 
institution to a new site, the College voted £1000 in aid of this object in 1868, and 
next year agreed to furnish two medical wards in the new building. Again, in 
1920, when the needs of the infirmary were very great after the War, the College 
voted in its aid a donation of 1000 guineas, and a similar sum was donated 
towards an extension of the infirmary in 1930. 

Thedis- An important early activity of the College of Physicians, which had a bearing 

on the development of medical teaching in Edinburgh, was the institution of 
conferences or discourses. Sibbald, in his Autobiography, takes the credit for 
having commenced these, and says : — 

" In the yeer 1680, I induced some of the Physitians in Town, especially 
Doctor Burnett, Doctor Steenson, Dr. Balfour, and Doctor Pitcairne, to 
meet at my lodging once a fourthnight or so, wher we had conferences. The 
matters we discoursed upon, was letters from these abroad, giving account 
of what was most remarkable a doing by the learned, some rare cases had 
happned in our practice, and ane account of Bookes, that tended to the 
improvement of medicine or naturall history, or any other curious learning, 
and were continued till the erection of the Colledge of Physitians. Several! 




of the discourses are inserted in a book I call Acta Medica Edinburgensia. 
They were forborne then upon the introducing of such conferences once a 
moneth in the Colledge." 1 

A few years after the foundation of the College, on 7th January, 1684, eleven 
Fellows, including Stevensone, Balfour, Sibbald, Crawfurd, Trotter, St. Clair, 
Cranstoun, Pitcairne, and three others met, and the president, Sir Archibald 
Stevensone, gave the first discourse on Polypus Cordis. This was the first of 
a series of discourses which the College had resolved to hold monthly. 

The discourses were continued regularly every month during this year, and 
included the following subjects : February, Dr. Balfour on The Hippocratic 
Aphorism 22, Sect. I. ; March, Dr. Sibbald, De Concha Anatif era ; April, Dr. Crawfurd, 
De Natiira et Usu Sued Pancreatici ; May, Dr. Trotter, De Essentia Febris ; 
June, Dr. St. Clair, De Dissenteria ; July, Dr. Cranstoun, De AUenatione Mentis ; 
September, Dr. Learmont ; October, Dr. Halket, De Peculiaribus Infantium Morbis ; 
November, Dr. M'Gill, De Chilificatione ; December, Dr. Burnet, De Pleuritide. 
Dr. Halyburton also gave a discourse De Febris Intermittationis Natura et Curatione. 
The discourses seem gradually to have become less regular, and in December, 1696, 
when Sir Thomas Burnet was president, it was decided to revive the discourses, 
and Sir Robert Sibbald gave a discourse in the following February, De Generatione 
Univoca. The discourses seem to have been held at irregular intervals up to the 
year 17 12. 2 

At an early stage of its existence, on 5th February, 1683, the College had The Colic 
agreed to the formula for a licentiate's diploma, and in order to prevent irregular ^ n * s 
practice in Edinburgh and its neighbourhood, the College insisted that all persons 
desiring to practise as physicians in Edinburgh and its vicinity should first be 
recognised by them. 

Up to 1829, the College issued a licence to practise in Edinburgh and its 
neighbourhood ; but this was given as the charter required to all university 
graduates, and was conferred on no others. After the passing of the Medical Act 
of 1858, which abolished territorial restrictions, the old order of licentiates of the 
College ceased to exist. On 5th April, 1859, it was decided by the College to 
examine and confer a licence on gentlemen who had not previously obtained a 
university degree. This proposal was at first strongly resisted by the university 
and others. 

This power of licensing to practise was already exercised by the College of 
Surgeons in Edinburgh, and by the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow, 
and the College of Physicians accordingly adopted the powers of licensing which 
had been conferred upon it by its charter. After a " year of grace," in which the 
licence was conferred without examination upon applicants already in practice, 
the licence was conferred only following upon the successful passing of an 
examination held by four examiners appointed by the College. 

1 " The Autobiography of Sir Robert Sibbald, Knt., M.D.," printed 1833, p.- 28. 

2 Peel Ritchie : " The Early Days of the Royall Colledge of Phisitians, Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1899, p. 124. 



From 1859 onwards, further arrangements were made with the Royal College 
of Surgeons, Edinburgh, and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, 
both of which had the right to license in surgery. In combination with each of 
these bodies, the College of Physicians granted a double qualification, conferring 
upon the holder the right to practise all branches of the profession in every part of 
Her Majesty's dominions. This enabled the licentiates to register two separate 
qualifications as required by the Medical Act. In 1884, the double qualifications 
were superseded by the triple qualification, which conferred the licence of all three 
corporations after examination. 1 On 2nd February, 1886, it was resolved by the 
College to admit women to the examinations for the conjoint qualification. 

In August, 1895, a School of Medicine of the Royal Colleges was constituted School of 

jointly by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, ^® RcT-al 

witli the object of rendering assistance to the general body of lecturers constituting Colleges 
the extra-mural school, and of exercising a certain amount of authority over these 
by granting recognition to those of their Fellows who applied to be examined for 
their fitness to act in this capacity. 

In 1683, the formation of a library occupied the attention of the Fellows, The library 
and this library has steadily grown till, at the present time (1931), it includes 
over 100,000 volumes. As a consequence of 
its prolonged existence, this library contains 
many old books of great value. 

The meetings of the Fellows of the 
College of Physicians were at first held 
in the private houses of the officials, but 
on 17th April, 1698, the College resolved to 
buy a house of its own, and, in 1704, it 
acquired the house and grounds of Sir James 
Mackenzie in Fountain Close, between the 
High Street and Cowgate. Seven years 
later, the College acquired the neighbouring 
land belonging to Baillie Jeffrey, and laid 
out a garden and shrubbery, extending down 
to the then fashionable Cowgate. This was 
the envy of the neighbouring peers, to whom seal of the royal college of 
in several cases the privilege of walking in the physicians of Edinburgh 

garden was permitted as a favour. 

About the same time, the College converted certain ruinous buildings bordering The bath 
on the Cowgate into a bath-house, which was open to the inhabitants generally 
at a charge of twelve shillings Scots, and one penny to the servant, for each 
ablution, or at an annual charge of one guinea. The bath, however, was let in 
1714, and shortly after abandoned. 

1 " Historical Sketch and Laws of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1925, p. 56. 



The hall In 1722, a new hall was erected in the garden, but the building appears to 

have been unsatisfactory, for, in 1766, it became necessary to apply to the 
managers of the Royal Infirmary to deposit the library in a spare apartment of 
that building, and to hold the meetings of the College in the managers' board- 
room. These requests were granted, and the privilege was continued to the 
College for 15 years. In 1781, the premises in Fountain Close were sold, 
and the library and meetings of the College were transferred to a new hall 
near the east end of George Street. The foundation stone of this hall had 
been laid on 27th November, 1775, by the president, Dr. William Cullen. 
In 1843, the George Street hall, which had been a very fine building, was sold 
to the Commercial Bank for £20,000, and from this transaction, the prosperity 
of the College dates. The present hall was occupied in 1846. 1 

' " Historical Sketch and Laws of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1925, pp. 39. et seq. 

Chapter X 1 1 1 

Foundation of the Faculty of Medicine in the 
University at Edinburgh 

The development of a Faculty of Medicine in the Town's College, or University Beginnings 
of Edinburgh, followed about half a century after the foundation of the Royal College teaching at 
of Physicians, and was mainly due to Fellows of the latter. In the early appoint- Edinburgh 
ment (1685) of Sibbald, Pitcairne and Ffalket as " professors of medicine," the 
Town Council had evidently envisaged the commencement of a complete 
medical school, and they had given much help to the Physic Garden started 
by Sibbald and Balfour, as well as to Pitcairne's plan of anatomical lectures 
by the surgeons. 

An acquaintance with the human body had early been regarded by the Town's 
College as a matter of some importance in a general education. It appears from 
a report of Commissioners appointed by the various Scottish universities, 
who met at Edinburgh in July, 1648, that anatomy was a prescribed part of the 
ordinary discipline in the arts course, for at the end of the third year of study 
the anatomy of the human body was described. 1 

It is possible that some of the surgeons may have assisted in these exercises. 
At all events, the first important step in the foundation of a medical school had 
been the development of anatomical instruction in the hands of the Surgeons' 
Incorporation from the beginning of the 16th century, as already described. 
The physicians of Edinburgh in the 17th century had developed the teaching 
of botany in the Physic Gardens at Holyrood and at Trinity Hospital. 

A limited amount of instruction on medicine was given by Alexander Monro 
in his comprehensive course of anatomy, from the time when he was appointed 
professor of anatomy in the Town's College in 1720. The steps leading up to this 
have been described in Chapter XI. At the same time, Dr. Charles Alston was 
giving a regular course of lectures on materia medica and botany. 2 

The surgeon-apothecaries had already delivered, from time to time, a course 
of chemistry which consisted in the exhibition of a variety of pharmaceutical 
processes by a lecturer appointed from the Incorporation of Surgeons. An 
advertisement of 1702, intimates " the course of chemistrie at the laboratorie 
in the chyrurgeon apothecaries' hall, Edinburgh, will begin this year upon 
Tuesday the fourth day of May." 3 

1 Bower: " History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. I., p. 246, and Appendix 3. 
* Bower : Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 180. 

3 Edinburgh Gazette, 2}rd March, 1702. (Quoted by Bower, Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 125.) 



The Town Council, in 1713, decided to appoint a professor of this subject. It Professor of 
may be recalled that Van Helmont, who is regarded as the last of the alchemists, chemistr y 
had died in 1644, and Glauber, who is usually looked upon as the first of the 
chemists, had died in 1668. Sylvius, at Leyden, about the middle of the 17th 
century, had been one of the first to see the importance of the relationship between 
chemistry and medicine, and he and his pupils, De Graaf, Stensen, etc., had 
investigated the secretions of the glands. Boerhaave's Elementa Chemice, 
published in 1732, was one of the first text-books on this subject, so that the 
Town Council of Edinburgh were very early in the field of chemistry with their 
professorial appointment. 

Dr. James Crawford was elected professor of physic and chemistry in the James 
University of Edinburgh on 9th December, 17 13, the same year in which a Crawford 
professorship of chemistry was founded at Cambridge. Dr. Crawford had studied 
under Boerhaave at Leyden, where he graduated M.D. in 1707. Returning to 
Edinburgh, and being licensed to practise by the College of Physicians in 1710, 
lie became a Fellow of the College in 1711. A testimonial as to his fitness for the 
post was furnished by the College of Physicians to Principal Carstares, and upon 
Crawford's application to the Town Council, he was duly elected professor in the 
Town's College, where two rooms were allotted to him, although he was to receive 
no salary. It appears that he only held a class of chemistry sometimes, so that 
the encouragement which he received was not sufficient to induce him to deliver 
?an annual course. 1 

One of Crawford's pupils was Alexander Monro, and some idea of the teaching 
can be obtained from the fact that Monro's father provided him with " such a 
chemical apparatus as enabled him to repeat at home the experiments which 
Dr. Crawford exhibited in the class." 2 

The next step in the development of medical teaching in the Town's 
College was the appointment of Alexander Monro (1697-1767), as professor 
of anatomy. 

The appointment of lecturers on anatomy by the Incorporation of Surgeons, Anatomy 
and their recognition by the Town Council, which had begun in the person of 
Monteatli in 1697, and had been continued by Robert Eliot, Adam Drummond, 
and John M'Gill, has been described in Chapter XI. On 22nd January, 1720, 
Drummond and M'Gill, conjoint professors of anatomy in the city and college, 
demitted office and recommended Alexander Monro as a fit person for the profession 
of anatomy. He was also recommended to the Town Council by the Incorporation 
of Surgeons, and was accordingly appointed. He was the son of John Monro, 
a surgeon who had served in the army under William of Orange, had joined the 
Incorporation of Surgeons, and had been Deacon in 1712. 

1 Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. II., p. 126. 

2 Bower : Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 170. 




























John Monro had taken great pains with the education of his son Alexander, 
who had gone through an arts course at Edinburgh, acted as apprentice to his 
father, and was next sent to prosecute the study of surgery at London and 
on the Continent. 

Alexander In Edinburgh, Alexander Monro had availed himself of such facilities as 

Monro existed for medical study, attending the pharmaceutical demonstrations of 

Professor George Preston, the chemistry course of Dr. James Crawford, 
and the anatomical demonstrations of Drummond and M'Gill. After finishing 
his apprenticeship with his father, he went to London in 1717, where he 
lodged with an apothecary, saw his practice, and attended lectures on natural 
philosophy by Messrs. Whiston and Hawksbee. The special attraction for him 
in London, however, was attendance on the anatomical demonstrations and 
surgical teaching of William Cheselden. Here he nearly lost his arm through a 
dissecting wound. 

In the spring of 1718 he went to Paris, where he attended botanical lectures 
and accompanied the physicians and surgeons on their visits at La Charite and 
L'Hotel Dieu, and studied accouchements under M. Gregoire and bandages under 
M. Cessau. In the autumn of the same year he set out for Leyden, where he studied 
chemistry and medicine under Boerhaave, as well as attending the clinical lectures 
in the hospital. Returning to Edinburgh in the autumn, 1719, he was admitted 
a member of the Incorporation of Surgeons. 

After receiving his commission as professor from the Town Council in January, 
1720, he commenced to prepare his course of lectures for the following October. 
Great exertions were made to procure a good attendance upon his introductory 
lecture, which was regarded as so important a step in the development of the 
Edinburgh school. The Lord Provost with the magistrates, the president and 
Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians, and the Deacon and members of the 
Incorporation of Surgeons, together with a large number of Monro's friends, 
appeared to hear his first lecture, and it is no wonder that though Monro 
had committed the lecture to memory, the presence of this audience banished 
it from his mind. He apparently, however, acquitted himself so well in an 
extemporaneous lecture, that he resolved to adopt the same method for the 
remainder of his course. The number of students who attended in the first 
year was 57. 

His course of Monro (primus), being appointed professor of anatomy, immediately introduced 
instruction an extended course of instruction lasting from October to May, and embracing 
the following subjects : He began with a history of anatomy, which he apparently 
treated very fully. Next he took up osteology, dealing not only with the form 
and structure of the bones, but also with their uses and the diseases and 
accidents to which each is liable. Next he demonstrated, on adult subjects, 
the muscles, viscera and brain, and, on the bodies of children, the nerves and 
blood-vessels, again dealing not only with anatomy as we regard it, but 



with disease in the various organs. He further illustrated the anatomy of the 
human body by the dissection of various quadrupeds, fowls and fishes, comparing 
the structure and uses of their organs with those of the human body. He 
proceeded then to consider the diseases for which chirurgical operations 
were commonly undertaken, and to demonstrate the operations on the 
cadaver, as well as the bandages and various instruments and appliances 
used in surgery. Finally, he concluded his winter course with some general 
lectures on physiology. 1 

After a probationary period of two years, the Town Council promoted Monro His new 
to the position of " sole professor of anatomy within this city and college of theatre 
Edinburgh, and that ad vitam aid culpam." He was thus the first medical 
professor who had been appointed for life. In April, 1725, following upon a riot 
by the mob directed against supposed body-snatching, Monro decided to remove 
his specimens within the walls of the Town's College, for he had apparently up 
to this time lectured in the Surgeons' Hall. On 25th October, 1725, the Town 
Council granted him a theatre for public dissections for teaching the students 
under his inspection. In Edgar's map of Edinburgh (1765), a round building 
is shown to the east of the Town's College, which is indicated as Monro's 
theatre, and this building was probably that erected for him by the Town 
Council at this time. 

The chief work published by Monro was a treatise on the anatomy of the 
bones, brought out in 1726, which was later, in 1759, re-published by M. Sue 
at Paris with elegant engravings. Numerous other short papers were brought 
out by him at various times, and were published in a collected form by his 
son in 1781. 

Monro played an important part in assisting Provost George Drummond in 
the opening of the small house in Robertson's Close, which was first used as the 
Infirmary, and afterwards in the erection of the permanent building of which 
the foundation stone was laid in August, 1738. 

In 175b, the University of Edinburgh conferred upon him the degree of Doctor 
of Medicine, and in the same year he was licensed by, and became a Fellow of, the 
Royal College of Physicians. In the following year his youngest son, Alexander 
Monro (secundus), was appointed joint professor of anatomy, and to the latter 
he resigned the work of teaching the class, although he still continued to give clinical 
lectures at the hospital. He died on 10th July, 1767. 

The number of students attracted to the class of anatomy in the Town's College Institutes 
had been so satisfactory that on 12th August, 1724, the Town Council, on the ^medicine 
recommendation of the Royal College of Physicians, " considering the great benefit 
and advantage that would accrue to this city and kingdom, by having all the 
parts of medicine taught in this place," decided to appoint a professor to teach 

1 "Works of Alexander Monro," published by his sou, Edinburgh, 1781. 



the institutes and practice of medicine. For this post William Porterfield, a Fellow 
of the Royal College of Physicians, was recommended to the Town Council by the 
president, censors and other members of this college, as a person well fitted and 
qualified for teaching medicine in all its parts. They therefore appointed him 
on the condition that he would " give colleges (courses) regularly, in order to the 
instructing of students in the said science of medicine." 

Andrew Plummer (died 1756) 
(Original picture in the possession of Major C. H. Scott Plummer) 

William Porterfield had graduated at Rheims in 1717, and had been licensed to practise 

Porterfield t j ie R 0 y a i College of Physicians in 1721. He is described in his commission 
as being " disengaged from the necessary business of all other public professions," 
from which it may be assumed that he had, at least to a large extent, given up 
practice. He is now best known by an excellent treatise on the eye, which he 
published in 1759. The Town Council appear to have considered that Porterncld's 


lectures on the institutes and practice of medicine would be sufficient to cover the 
whole of medicine, but Bower is inclined to think that he never delivered a course 
of lectures. 1 At all events, less than two years after his appointment, he was 
replaced, apparently quite amicably, by another set of professors. 

John Rutherford (169 5-17 79) 
(Grandfather of Sir Walter Scott) 
(Original picture by Allan Ramsay, in the possession of Miss Russel) 

On nth November, 1724, that is, three months after Porterfield's appointment, 
a memorial was presented to the Town Council by Drs. John Rutherford, Andrew 
St. Clair, Andrew Plummer and John Innes, Fellows of the Royal College of 
Physicians, showing that they had " purchased a house for a chemical elaboratory, 
adjoining to the college garden," and craving that they might be allowed the use 
of the garden for supplying chemical medicines and instructing students of medicine. 

1 Bower: "History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. II., pp. 201-203. 



Four pro- 
fessors of 
medicine and 



They pointed out that the garden was in confusion, and requested that they might 
have it on the same terms as Mr. Preston had it before. The Town Council granted 
their petition, and they apparently commenced to teach. 

In another petition, dated gth February, 1726, the same four physicians 
declared that they had undertaken the professing and teaching of medicine and 
had carried it on with some success. They further indicated that if they were 
allowed to profess and teach medicine in the college, this would tend to promote 
it more than if it were " taught and professed in the manner hitherto undertaken." 
This reflected somewhat upon Porterfield and Crawford, although their names 
were not mentioned either by the petitioners or by the Town Council. The 
Council in their reply considered that the petitioners had given the clearest proof 
of their capacity and ability to teach medicine " with good success and advantage, 
and with the approbation of all the learned in that science here," and they 
accordingly appointed them professors of medicine and chemistry in the college 
of Edinburgh. They were appointed, like Monro, ad vitam aut culpam, but it was 
expressly stipulated that they should not have any salary. 1 

The four colleagues, who proposed to rear medicinal plants in the college 
garden, apparently intended to lecture both on chemistry and materia medica, 
as well as upon practice of medicine and institutes or theory of medicine. Between 
1724 and 1726 they must have lectured as extra-mural teachers either in their 
own lodgings or in the small house next the college garden where the chemical 
laboratory was established. After 172b, they presumably had rooms in the 
Town's College, and they divided the subjects between them. Dr. St. Clair 
lectured upon the theory or institutes of medicine (physiology), by explaining 
the Institutiones Medicce of Boerhaave, while Dr. Rutherford dealt with the 
practice of medicine, using as a text-book the Aphorismi de Cognoscendis et Curandis 
Morbis of the same author. Plummer and Innes apparently took the subjects 
ol chemistry and materia medica between them. 

Dr. John Rutherford (1695-1779), who had graduated at Rheims in 1719, 
has a special claim to remembrance as having been the first professor to deliver 
clinical lectures in the Infirmary, commencing these immediately after the dis- 
turbance caused by the Rebellion had passed off in 174*), when his class was attended 
by a great many students. His lectures appear to have been greatly appreciated, 
and a pupil, the celebrated Dr. William Buchan, said of him : " Rutherford is 
slow, but absolutely sure." John Rutherford was the maternal grandfather of 
Sir Walter Scott, and his son, Dr. Daniel Rutherford, at a later date acted 
as professor of botany, and was celebrated as the discoverer of nitrogen gas. 
John Rutherford continued to lecture on clinical medicine after he had ceased 
to lecture on practice of medicine. 

1 Bower : '■ History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. II., pp. 204-J08. 



Dr. Andrew St. Clair was the son of Dr. Matthew St. Clair, one of 
the original Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians. He graduated M.D. at 
Angers in 1720. 

St. Clair 

Dr. Andrew Plummer had commenced study at the University of Edinburgh, Andrew 
and afterwards repaired to Leyden, where he studied medicine under Boerhaave, Plum mer 
and took the degree of M.D. in 1722. He was specially interested in chemistry, 
and a great part of his course consisted in showing " a variety of useful and amusing 
processes," but a considerable portion of the course also consisted in teaching 
pharmacy. His name is preserved in a pill of antimony and mercury still 
known as " Plummer 's Pill," and he was the first person to analyse the water 
of Moffat Spa, and to recommend patients to betake themselves to that health 
resort. 1 Plummer died on 16th April, 1756. 

Dr. John Innes had graduated M.D. at Padua in 1722. He apparently acted John Innes 
as colleague to Dr. Plummer in chemistry and materia medica, although it is not 
certain how they divided their work, and little is known in regard to him. 
He was appointed physician to Heriot's Hospital (school) in 1730, and died 
towards the end of 1733. 

On gth February, 1726, the Town Council resolved to appoint another professor. Midwifery 
They had received a petition from Mr. Joseph Gibson, chirurgeon in Edinburgh, 
setting forth the usefulness and necessity of instituting a profession of midwifery. 
Gibson was recommended by the Incorporation of Surgeons, and the Council 
therefore resolved to appoint him to be professor of midwifery in the city " with 
the same privileges and immunities that are known to appertain to a professor of 
midwifery in any other well-regulated city or place." At the same time they 
enacted " that no person hereafter should presume to enter on the practice of mid- 
wifery within this city and priviledges (except such persons who have actually 
been bred to chirurgery, such may practise this art, upon passing the trials that 
warrants their practising of any other branch of chirurgery) till once they present 
to the magistrates a certificate . . . ; whereupon a licence should be given 
them, signed by four of the magistrates at least, to practise midwifery." 

It was also directed that a register of midwives at that time in practice, and 
of new entrants, should be kept in the Council Chamber, while the contraveners 
of this regulation were to be prosecuted at the town's expense. It is to be noted 
that Professor Gibson was at first only city professor of midwifery for the instruction 
of midwives, although his successors were afterwards enrolled as members of the 
University Senatus. 2 

Mr. Gibson had become a member of the Incorporation of Surgeons on Joseph 
1st June, 1722, and had practised in the town of Leith for some years prior to Glbson 
being appointed professor of midwifery. The practice of this art in Scotland at 

1 Bovver: "History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1S17, Vol. II., pp. 215-216. 

2 Bower : Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 254. 



that time was entirely in the hands of female practitioners, and the somewhat 
opprobrious term of " man-midwife " was generally applied in Britain to physicians 
who specialised in this branch. This appointment at Edinburgh was the hrst of 
its kind in the United Kingdom or in any university, and Professor Gibson appears 
to have instructed both midwives and medical students till his death, which took 
place in January, 1739. 

Robert He was succeeded, on 14th December, 1739, by Mr. Robert Smith, who had 

become a member of the Surgeons' Incorporation in 1731. The commission 
received by Robert Smith was more ample than that given to his predecessor, 
for he was now " professor of midwifery in the city's college, with power to profess 
and teach the said art in the said college," and he was thus constituted a regular 
member of the Senatus Academicus. He held the office for about 17 years, 
resigning on 18th February, 1756, when Dr. Thomas Young was appointed to 
the chair. 

The Medical Faculty of Edinburgh University actually began from 1726, and 
the university was now provided with the power of teaching anatomy and surgery 
(Professor Monro), chemistry and medicine (Professors Plummer and Innes), 
institutes of medicine and practice of medicine (Professors St. Clair and Rutherford), 
botany (Professor George Preston), and midwifery (Professor Gibson). 

Degree of The University of Edinburgh began to confer the M.D. degree in 1705, the 

first graduate having been David Cockburn, A.M., who graduated on 14th May, 
1705. Prior to the foundation of the Medical Faculty in the Town's College in 
1726, the examination of candidates was remitted to the College of Physicians, 
who appointed two of their Fellows to give a certificate. This, when presented 
to the university, was sustained and the degree duly conferred. In this way 
21 degrees were conferred up to 1725. From the year 1726 onwards the candidates 
were examined by the Medical Faculty, and by them recommended to the 
Senatus for degrees. 1 

The requirements for the degree of M.D. at Edinburgh, when the Medical 
Faculty was founded in 1726, were as follows : The student was required to have 
studied medicine during at least three years at Edinburgh or some other 
university, and must have attended during this time lectures on anatomy and 
surgery, chemistry, botany, materia medica and pharmacy, theory and practice 
of medicine and clinical lectures in the hospital. He was then required to 
compose a dissertation in Latin upon some medical subject, and to submit it to 
one of the medical professors two months before the day of graduation. The 
dissertation was next submitted to the whole Faculty, a question was proposed 
to the candidate, and he was afterwards examined by two professors as to the 
proficiency he had made in his medical studies. 

1 Bovver: '• History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. II., p. 110 ; and " List of Graduates in 
Medicine in the University of Edinburgh from 1705 to 1866." 




If his answers were satisfactory, his test was finished. If not, one of the 
aphorisms of Hippocrates was assigned to him by one of the professors, and a 
medical question by another. He had to illustrate the former by a commentary, 
and to answer the latter with proper arguments before the Medical Faculty. 
Two histories of diseases, accompanied with questions, were also given to him 
in writing, and he had to give his opinion on them before the Faculty. If he now 
gave satisfaction, he had to print his thesis and defend it publicly: this, 
however, being apparently a matter of form. Thereafter, he received the 
degree of doctor of medicine. All these proceedings were conducted in 
the Latin tongue. 1 

Seal, Edinburgh University 

Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1S17, Vol. II., pp. 216-220. 

Chapter XIV 

Medicine at Edinburgh in the Latter Half of the 

Eighteenth Century 

T h E medical faculty in the University of Edinburgh after its foundation in 1726 M.D. 
remained much the same through the next 20 years. Candidates for the exammatlon 
degree of M.D., who, up to 1725, had been examined by the Royal College of 
Physicians and recommended to the Senatus of the Town's College, were, from 
1726, examined by the professors of the newly-instituted faculty, and had now to 
submit a thesis before receiving the degree of M.D. 

In 1738, an important change was made in regard to the subject of botany. Materia 
Sutherland and the Prestons had been professors of botany only, but in this year ]1K ' <llca 
the Town Council decided that it would be of advantage to appoint a professor 
of medicine and botany, and accordingly elected Dr. Charles Alston to this post. 
He commenced his first course of botany in the subsequent May, and a course of 
materia medica in November of the same year, and during the 22 years that 
he was a professor he regularly delivered two courses, one on each of these 
subjects, in every year. 

Thirty years after Alston's appointment the two subjects were divided, when 
a chair was instituted in materia medica, of which Francis Home was the first 

Alston had studied medicine and botany under Boerhaave at Leyden, where 
he had graduated M.D., and he had already been king's botanist with charge of 
the Holyrood garden for several years. He died in 1760. 

About the time that materia medica was introduced by the appointment of 
Alston, the Town Council, on 14th December, 1739, on the death of Joseph Gibson, 
the first professor of midwifery to the city, elected Robert Smith as professor of 
midwifery in the Town's College. The professor of midwifery was thus, from 1739 
onwards, a member of the Senatus Academicus. Smith held the professorship 
for about 17 years, continuing to teach midwives and students, though it is 
doubtful if he ever gave a full course of lectures. 

The decade from 1746 to about 1755 was one of great development in medical of 
teaching, and Hie number of students increased materially. During the first 20 
years of the faculty's existence, students presented themselves annualK for 
graduation in ones and threes, but in 1755, the number of graduates had risen 
to 17, and students were now coming with considerable frequency from the 
American and West Indian colonies to get their medica! education at Edinburgh. 

With regard to the teaching of midwifery, an important development of the Teaching of 
medical school took place in 1756, when Dr. Thomas Young was elected professor midwifer > 



You ns 


of midwifery. He is generally regarded as the founder of the obstetric school in 
the University of Edinburgh. His predecessors, Gibson and Smith, had given 
instruction to midwives and students, and had supervised the examination and 
licensing of the former, but Dr. Young appears to have been the first who gave a 
systematic course of lectures upon the subject. He advertised his willingness to 
deliver patients free of charge, and supply them with proper medicines, so as to 
have cases for clinical instruction. 

Dr. Young had joined the Incorporation of Surgeons in 175 1, and subsequently 
graduated M.D. He was elected Deacon of the Incorporation of Surgeons in the 
same year as he was appointed professor of midwifery. 

In this year, also, he took another important step when he applied to the 
managers of the Royal Infirmary for permission to fit up a ward for lying-in women. 
This request was granted, and a ward was fitted up in the attic storey of the hospital 
at Dr. Young's expense for four lying-in women, or as many more as Dr. Young 
could accommodate, each woman exceeding the number four paying sixpence 
per day to the Infirmary. This was the origin of the Edinburgh Maternity 

After Dr. Young had successfully taught the class of midwifery for 24 years, 
the Town Council, on 15th November, 1780, elected Dr. Alexander Hamilton 
to be conjunct professor of midwifery along with Dr. Young. 

Alexander Hamilton (1739-1802), the son of an army surgeon, had been 
apprenticed to John Straiton, surgeon in Edinburgh, and joined the Incorporation 
of Surgeons in 1764. At a later date he graduated M.D. of St. Andrews, and 
joined the College of Physicians in 1789. It was during his period of office as Deacon 
of the. Incorporation of Surgeons that the charter was obtained from George III. 
on 14th March, 1778, erecting this Incorporation into the Royal College of Surgeons, 
and conferring upon its members the dignity of Fellows. During his tenure of the 
chair in the College of Surgeons a strong effort was made to have surgery taught 
by a separate professor in the university, but this project, being resolutely opposed 
by Monro (secundus) , for the time fell to the ground. 

Dr. Hamilton, who for some years had apparently been giving instruction 
in midwifery, was appointed conjunct professor with Dr. Young in 1780, and on 
Young's death in 1783, became sole professor of this subject in the university. 
He was assisted in his practice by his son, James Hamilton, who succeeded him 
on his retirement in 1800. 1 Through the exertions ol Professor Alexander 
Hamilton, the Lying-in Hospital, which had been originally connected with the 
Infirmary, was established independently in February, 1791, " for the purpose 
of affording relief to the wives of indigent tradesmen." This institution, besides 
acting as a useful charity, afforded to students of midwifery opportunities of 
gaining instruction in the practical application of this subject. 2 

1 " Dictionary of National Biography," Vol. XXIV. 

' Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. III., p. 360. 



Dr. Alexander Hamilton published several important works dealing with his 
department. In 1775, before he had been appointed to the chair, he published 
a text-book, " Elements of the Practice of Midwifery," which afterwards went 
through several editions and was expanded to a text-book on " The Outlines of 
Midwifery," and he also brought out a successful "Treatise on the Management 
of Female Complaints." 

The famous pamphlet, which appeared in the year 1792, entitled " A Guide 
for Gentlemen Studying Medicine at the University of Edinburgh," by J. Johnson, 

of which the authorship was attributed 
by Professor Gregory first to Alexander 
and then to James Hamilton, and 
for which Gregory administered the 
celebrated beating to the latter, gives 
an account of the way in which 
Dr. Alexander Hamilton conducted his 
course of instruction in midwifery. It 
runs as follows : — 

" Dr. Hamilton divides his His course 
course into four parts. In the first, in midwifery 
he explains every circumstance in 
the state of women before delivery 
with which the practitioner ought 
to be acquainted ; in the second, 
he describes the treatment during 
child-bearing of all the vaiious 
cases which can occur ; in the 
third, he describes the manage- 
ment of lying-in women ; and in 
the fourth part, he exhibits a 
most complete view of the dis- 
eases of children in early infancy. 
. . . The practice of midwifery 
is acquired in the lying-in ward 
or tne Koyal mnrmary ; but, as it is on a very small scale (containing only 
six patients at a time), Dr. Hamilton engages to furnish his pupils with 
private deliveries if they are very anxious to see much practice." 1 

The Rebellion of 1745 produced great confusion in the arrangements for 
medical teaching, as well as in other departments of social activity throughout 
Scotland. By the winter of 1746-1747, however, affairs had settled down, 
and various re-arrangements took place in the Medical Faculty. Dr. Innes 
had in the meantime died, and it became necessary to appoint a successor. The 

1 This pamphlet was withdrawn from circulation, but a copy of it survives in the library of the Royal Medical Society, 




Town Council accordingly elected Dr. Robert Whytt to succeed Dr. Innes as 
professor of the institutes of medicine, and, at the same time, he was elected professor 
of the practice of medicine on 26th August, 1747. 

Dr. John Rutherford had been lecturing on the practice of medicine for over 
20 years, and it is not quite clear why Dr. Whytt now took over these duties. 
The reason is probably to be found in the fact that Dr. Rutherford began, in the 
winter session of 1746-1747, to deliver clinical lectures in the Infirmary, and that 
these occupied a great deal of his time and energy. He still, however, nominally 
lectured on the practice of physic for another 20 years, when he resigned, 
and he died in 1799. Andrew St. Clair, before this time, seems to have fallen 
out of notice as a lecturer, and Andrew Plummer, the fourth of the original 
professors, devoted himself latterly entirely to chemistry. 

Clinical John Rutherford, in commencing his clinical lectures, described his 

medicine , f „ 

plan as follows : — 

" I shall examine every Patient capable of appearing before you, that 
no circumstance may escape you, and proceed in the following manner : 
1st, Give you a history of the disease. 2ndly, Enquire into the Cause. 
3rdly, Give you my Opinion how it will terminate. 4thly, lay down the 
indications of cure yt arise, and if any new Symptoms happen acquaint you 
them, that you may see how I vary my prescriptions. And 5thly, Point out 
the different Method of Cure. If at any time you find me deceived in giving 
my Judgement, you'll be so good as to excuse me, for neither do I pretend to 
be, nor is the Art of Physic infallible, what you can in Justice expect from 
me is, some accurate observations and Remarks upon Diseases." 1 

From the earliest days of the Royal Infirmary it had been the practice for 
students to attend the physicians and surgeons at their visits, and to receive 
instruction from them on the cases. For this they paid a fee of one guinea in the 
case of apprentices, and two guineas in the case of other students, yearly. The 
delivery of clinical lectures was at first confined to the professors of medicine. 
As early as 1749 the Governors of the Infirmary declared : — 

" A flourishing School of Medicine being already established in Edinburgh, 
the Governors of the Infirmary resolved to promote it as much as they could, 
and on this account allowed all Students of Medicine, on paying a very small 
Gratuity, which is part of the annual Revenue of the Infirmary, to attend 
this Hospital, to see the practice of the Physicians and Surgeons. They 
likewise granted Liberty to the Professors of Medicine to give clinical Lectures 
on the Cases of the Patients, and they are making a collection of medical 
books, and of chirurgical Instruments for public use." 2 

Special accommodation was provided for the " clinical patients," and, in 1756, 
a definite course of clinical medicine was arranged, Drs. Monro, William Cullen, 

1 MS. Notes of Rutherford's Clinical Lectures in the Royal College of Physicians' Library, Edinburgh, p. 7. 
a " History and Statutes of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1749. 



Whytt and Rutherford lecturing in rotation during a period of five months. 
In 1790, the delivery of clinical lectures was extended to include lectures by the 
Physician-in-Ordinary in the person of Dr. Henry Cullen. 1 

The delivery of lectures on clinical surgery followed much later than the Clinical 
arrangements for clinical medicine. It appears that, in 1772, James Rae had for sur g ei T 
several years been giving " practical discourses on cases of importance in the 
Royal Infirmary," 2 and, in 1769, the Governors of the Infirmary agreed to a 
memorial from the surgeons that clinical lectures in surgery should be regularly 
instituted similar to those given in clinical medicine, the treasurer being instructed 
" to find out a proper place in the Hospital for the above purpose." 

Dr. Robert Whytt (1714-1766), who was elected professor both of the theory Robert 
and practice of medicine in 1747, had received his early education at Kirkcaldy, Whytt 
and later went to St. Andrews University, where he graduated in arts in 1730. 
The next four years he spent in Edinburgh, studying medicine at the school 
which Monro (primus), St. Clair, Rutherford, Innes and Plummer had done much 
to develop in the previous decade. In 1736, he graduated M.D. at Rheims, 
and, returning to Scotland next year, received the degree of M.D. also from 
St. Andrews University. In 1737, he joined the Edinburgh College of Physicians 
as a licentiate, started medical practice in Edinburgh, and became a Fellow of 
the College in the following year. 

About the time that Whytt commenced to practise, great public interest was Researches 
manifested in the search for substances which would dissolve stones in the bladder. on stone 
This was probably due to several well-known persons having suffered from calculus 
about the period, but the condition seems in any case to have been commoner 
then than now. Whj'tt had taken a great deal of interest in this subject, and 
carried out an elaborate series of experiments in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 
with lime-water made from calcined egg-shells, cockle-shells, oyster-shells, etc., 
which he found had a considerable power in disintegrating calculi. Not only 
had he tried the effects of the solvent in vitro, but he had carried out courses of 
injections into the bladders of various patients in the Infirmary who were suffering 
from vesical calculus. His " Essay on the Virtues of Lime-water and Soap in the 
Cure of the Stone " was first published in 1743. The treatment upon which he 
finally settled was to administer daily, by the mouth, an ounce of alicant soap 
and three pints or more of lime-water. 

Whytt was one of the first doctors in Scotland to devote himself to medical 
research in the modern connotation of this term, and he busied himself, for some 
years after his appointment as professor in the University of Edinburgh, chiefly 
with physiological researches. To this period belong " An Essay on the Vital 
and other Involuntary Motions of Animals," first published in 1751 ; and two 
" Physiological Essays," published in 1755. Of these, the one was "An Inquiry 
into the Causes which promote the Circulation of the Fluids in the very small 

1 Minutes of the Managers of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, of dates cited. 

2 Minutes of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 27th August, 1772. 



On reflexes 

On nervous 



Vessels of Animals." The other was entitled " Observations on the Sensibility 
and Irritability of the Parts of Men and other Animals : occasioned by 
M. de Haller's late Treatise on these Subjects." 

The " Essay on the Vital and other Involuntary Motions of Animals " 
contains a record of numerous experiments dealing especially with the reflex 
movements. Whytt was the first to localise a reflex by showing that lasting 
dilatation of the pupil might be due to compression of the optic thalamus. 1 He 
also showed that the brain is unnecessary for reflex action, and that a portion of 
the cord suffices for this, for in a brainless frog the reflexes of the upper and lower 
limbs are in different parts of the cord. 2 These were the first attempts, I believe, 
since the time of Galen, to localise the seat of reflex acts. They preceded by 
nearly a century the important memoir presented to the Royal Society by 
Marshall Hall (1833) on " The Reflex Function of the Medulla Oblongata and 
Medulla Spinalis." 

One of the Essays published in 1755, " Observations on the Sensibility and 
Irritability of the Parts of Men and other Animals," brought Whytt into conflict 
with Albrecht von Haller, and so gained for him prominent notice in Germany, 
Switzerland and France. The whole dispute, both on the side of Haller and 
on that of Whytt, was of a dialectic character, and tended rather to involve 
the names of things than actual facts of nature. It must be remembered, too, 
that the dispute took place between 60 and 70 years before the experiments 
of Bell (1811) and Magendie (1822) showed the separate existence of motor and 
sensory nerve paths. Whytt advanced some telling arguments in support of his 
contention that all muscular action was governed by nervous control. 

Of much more permanent interest, however, is Whytt's " Observations on 
the Nature, Causes and Cure of those Disorders which are commonly called 
Nervous, Hypochondriac, or Hysteric." This was published in 1764. It shows 
great clinical acumen and is well worth reading still, particularly for the vivid 
accounts that Whytt gives of a great number of cases of hysteria and similar 
conditions. He refers to " a particular sympathy between the nerves distributed 
to the teguments of the abdomen and those of the intestines." 3 He also mentions 
the pain felt in the groins and down the thighs in scirrhus of the uterus. 

Whytt's chief claim to lasting remembrance, however, lies in the fact that 
he was the first to give a clear description of tuberculous meningitis, or, as he 
called it, " Observations on the Dropsy in the Brain." This is a short treatise 
of 23 quarto pages, included in the collected works published after his death. 
The disease is still described according to the three stages into which Whytt 
divided its symptoms, and even at the present day there is little to add to his 
description from the clinical aspect. 

Monro f secundus J , who acted as professor of anatomy at Edinburgh from 
1754 to 1798, and whose name is familiar to medical students in connection with 

1 " Works of Robert Whytt, M.D.," published by his son, 1768, p. 71. 
8 Op. cit., p. 203. 
' Op. cit., p. 542. 



the foramen connecting the lateral and third ventricles of the brain, has an 
interesting point of contact with Whytt in this matter. The foramen was 
first observed greatly dilated in a case of hydrocephalus which Monro and Whytt 
saw in consultation in the year 1764. 1 

To continue the facts of Whytt's life, in 1752, he was elected a Fellow of 
the Royal Society of London as the result of the reputation gained by his 
" Essay on the Vital and other Involuntary Motions of Animals." Several 
short communications were addressed to this society. In 1761, he was 
made Physician to the King in Scotland, and, in 1763, he was elected President 
of the Royal College of Physicians at Edinburgh. He had many friends and 
correspondents in various parts of the world, and in particular he maintained 
a close friendship with Sir John Pringle, who had been a fellow - student. 
He died in 1766, 2 when he was succeeded in the chair of practice of medicine by 
John Gregory ; and in that of institutes of medicine by William Cullen. 

John Gregory (1725-1773) came of a celebrated Aberdonian family and had John 
been mediciner at King's College, Aberdeen. He had received his medical education Gre S c 
in the latter town and at Leyden, and had for a time practised in Aberdeen and 
in London. He repaired to Edinburgh early in 1765, and having already important 
connections in the University of Edinburgh, where his grandfather and two cousins 
had been professors of mathematics, he soon obtained an extensive practice. 
On 12th February, 1766, Dr. John Rutherford, who had been nominal professor of 
medicine, resigned, and on the same date Dr. John Gregory was elected his successor. 
Dr. Robert Whytt, professor of the institutes of medicine, had been the actual 
professor of practice of medicine since 1747, but was now in failing health and died 
on 15th April, 1766. 

During the 20 years through which Robert Whytt had been professor 
both of practice of medicine (in place of John Rutherford) and of institutes 
of medicine, the plan of having the two subjects taught by one individual 
appears to have been considered highly successful. Accordingly, we find 
Dr. William Cullen, who was now professor of institutes of medicine, on 
12th April, 1769, petitioning the Town Council, with the consent of 
Dr. John Gregory and the approbation of the other members of the Medical Faculty, 
to appoint him and Dr. Gregory to be joint professors of medicine, so that each 
of them should teach in alternate sessions the theory and the practice of medicine. 
It was proposed that this arrangement should subsist during the incumbencies 
of Dr. Gregory and Dr. Cullen. 

The arrangement was approved by the Town Council and came into effect, 
but this 18th century experiment of bringing physiology and medicine into close 
contact with one another was of too short duration to enable any conclusion 
to be drawn with regard to its success, for John Gregory died suddenly on 

1 Alexander Monro : " Observations on the Nervous System," 1783, Plate III., Fig. 4. 

2 See further, Comrie : " An 18th Century Neurologist," Edinburgh Medical Journal. November, 1925. 



10th February, 1773, before the plan had been four years in operation. His career 
in Aberdeen and his works are noticed in Chapter XVI. 

When John Gregory died, William Cullen became sole professor of practice 
of medicine under the arrangement previously made between the Town Council, 
Gregory and himself. It now devolved upon the Town Council to appoint a 
professor of institutes of medicine. On 5th May, 1773, Dr. Alexander Monro 
Drummond, who had graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1770, and had afterwards 
gone abroad and settled at Naples, was appointed to this chair. 

He had apparently made himself persona grata to the King of Naples, and 
on the intercession of the latter, he decided to remain in Italy, and seems, at an early 
stage, to have declined the proffered post in Edinburgh. As he had not arrived 
here by the beginning of the winter session, Dr. Francis Home was appointed, in 
October, 1773, to teach the class of institutes of medicine, and he appears to have 
done this for two winter sessions. It is not clear why the post was not regularly 
filled, because at the beginning of the winter session, 1755, Dr. Andrew Duncan 
( senior) was nominated to perform the duty of teaching the class, and did so for 
another two sessions. 

Finally, on 19th June, 1778, Dr. James Gregory, son of Dr. John Gregory, James 
was elected professor of the institutes of medicine. Bower is of opinion that the Gre g° r y 
delay of five years in obtaining a professor for this chair was due to the desire of 
the Town Council to have Dr. James Gregory for professor. When his father died, 
he was still a medical student, graduating M.D. in 1774, with a thesis " De Morbis 
Cceli Mutatione Medendis," and afterwards proceeding to Leyden to study under 
the celebrated Gaubius. At all events, when he was appointed to the chair of 
institutes of medicine, his was the only name considered. 1 

The subject of chemistry continued to be taught by Plummer till 1755, when 
William Cullen came from Glasgow to be his colleague and later his successor. 
Cullen succeeded Whytt as professor of institutes of medicine in 1766, and, at the 
same time, John Gregory, who had been mediciner at King's College in Aberdeen, 
succeeded Whytt as professor of practice of medicine. The developing medical 
school at Edinburgh thus had, at an early stage, important connections with 
Glasgow and Aberdeen. 

William Cullen (1710-1790), was born at Hamilton, his father being factor William 
to the Duke of Hamilton and proprietor of Saughs, a small estate near Bothwell. Cullen 
William Cullen was the second of a family of nine, and on the death of his father 
and elder brother, at an early age, Cullen assumed the responsibility for the 
education of the younger members of the family. His preliminary education took His 
place at the Grammar School of Hamilton, and at the age of 17 he went to educatic 
the University of Glasgow to study those subjects which were then considered 
part of an education in polite letters. 

1 Bower : " History of the University of Edinburgh," Edinburgh, 1817, Vol. III., p. 199. 



At this time, although there were several medical professors in that university, 
they were professors in title only and delivered no lectures, so that after Cullen 
had been for two years apprentice to Mr. John Paisley, a surgeon of Glasgow, 
he went, in 1729, to London to further his education and prospects. Obtaining 
a position as ship's surgeon, he sailed from London to the West Indies on a 
two years' voyage, and, on his return, spent a few months with Mr. Murray, 
an apothecary in Henrietta Street. 

Towards the end of 1731, he returned to Scotland, set up in practice for some 
months at the village of Shotts, and afterwards commenced a practice at Rothbury 
in Northumberland. This somewhat varied experience is a good example of the 
type of medical education which 
was in vogue in the early part of 
the 18th century. 

Cullen, however, aspiring to a 
status above the average in his 
profession, determined to take the 
degree of M.D., and betook him- 
self in the year 1734 to Edinburgh, 
where he attended the medical 
school in the sessions 1734-1735 
and 1735-1736. This was some 
eight years after the foundation 
of the Medical Faculty in the 
university. During his stay in 
Edinburgh he joined himself, in 
the year 1735, to a private 
debating club of students, from 
which later developed the Royal 
Medical Society. 

Returning again to Hamilton 
in 1736, Cullen became medical 
attendant to the Duke and 
Duchess of Hamilton, a position which he mentions that he held at a 
financial loss to himself, although that aristocratic connection proved of great 
value to his subsequent advancement. Very shortly after settling in 
Hamilton, he took as apprentice a youth from the neighbouring village 
of Longcalderwood, who afterwards became the celebrated physician William 
Hunter, and with whom Cullen maintained friendly intercourse to the end of 
Hunter's life. 

At Glasgow l n the year 1740, Cullen took the M.D. degree at Glasgow University with 

the intention of limiting his practice to that of a physician, and in November, 
1741, he married. In 1744, he removed his practice to Glasgow, and two years 
later he formed a teaching connection with this university by obtaining permission 

Practice at 

Mortar of William Cullen 

( Original in the Royal College of Physicians^ Edinburgh) 



from Dr. Johnstoun, then titular professor of medicine, who, however, had never Lectures on 
delivered lectures, to give a six months' course of lectures on practice of medlcine 

Next year he joined Mr. Carrick, a practitioner of the city, in giving a course 
of lectures on chemistry, and in the following year added materia medica and 
botany. Carrick having died in 1750, Cullen continued to give lectures on On 
medicine and chemistry for the rest of his stay in Glasgow. The interest which chemistry 
he succeeded in creating for the subject of chemistry is shown by the fact that 
the University of Glasgow, in 1747, sanctioned the spending of £52 in order to fit 
up a chemical laboratory. Later the amount was raised to £136, and a grant 
of £20 annually was made for the maintenance of the laboratory. The apparatus 
must have been of a somewhat elaborate type, because considerable difficulty was 
experienced in procuring part of it, even in London. In this chemical class 
Cullen had another pupil, Joseph Black, who subsequently attained great fame as 
a chemist. Black remained his pupil for six years in Glasgow, went to Edinburgh 
in 1751, where Dr. Plummer was then lecturer in chemistry, and three years 
later graduated M.D. 

In 1751, Cullen succeeded Dr. Johnstoun as professor of medicine in Appoint- 

the University of Glasgow, and continued to give lectures upon chemistry ments as 
......... professor 

and medicine for four years until 1755, when he secured an appointment 

as joint professor of chemistry with Plummer in the University of Edinburgh. 

Plummer died of apoplexy some months later, and under Cullen the class of 

chemistry prospered greatly, rising from 17 students in the first session to 59 in 

the second, and gradually developing into a class of 145. 

Teaching chemistry did not, however, satisfy Cullen's medical ambitions, and, in 
1757, he undertook to deliver clinical lectures in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 
a new type of lecture upon the cases of patients, which had been commenced by 
Dr. Rutherford ten years earlier on the model of lectures that he had heard given 
in the hospital at Leyden. In 1766, Cullen became professor of institutes or 
theory of medicine (physiology), and, in 1769, an arrangement was effected with 
Dr. John Gregory by which Gregory and Cullen gave alternate courses in practice 
of medicine. Cullen became sole professor of this subject when Gregory retired 
in 1773, and by this time he had also developed a large, lucrative and aristocratic 
consulting practice in Edinburgh. 

It is interesting to note that Cullen did not succeed to the professor- 
ship of medicine till he was 63 years old, an age at which many men of the 
present day are preparing to retire. Throughout his professional life 
Cullen lived and saw his patients in a small house in Mint Close or South 
Gray's Close, which, despite its confined character, was one of the principal 
residential districts of the day. In 1778, however, the cares of practice were 
decreasing, and he purchased Ormiston Hill House, near Kirknewton, some nine 
miles west of Edinburgh, where he spent much time in laying out a garden and 
sylvan retreat. Here, after resigning his chair in 1789, he died in 1790. 



Research Cullen's reputation in his own day, and his subsequent fame, rest almost entirely 

upon his skill as a teacher and sagacity as a consultant. With regard to research, 
as the term is understood at the present day, his only work was a short pamphlet 
recording experiments " On the Cold produced by Evaporating Fluids." He 
took an active part in preparing the new edition of the " Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia," 
issued in 1774, and in obtaining a new hall for the College of Physicians. In 1783, 
his persevering endeavours secured the incorporation of the Philosophical Society 
as the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

His works His works were all text-books elucidating various departments of medicine, 

and included " Lectures on Materia Medica," which was at first pirated 
and published without his consent in 1771, but subsequently issued as a 
" Treatise on Materia Medica " by him in 1789 ; and " First Lines on the Practice 
of Physic," published in 1776-1784, and in numerous subsequent English, 
French and German editions. But the work which brought him the 
greatest measure of fame was his " Nosology," published in 1769, a small 
pamphlet which aimed at a rigid classification of diseases by their symptoms 
on the same arbitrary principle as Linnaeus had adopted for classifying 
plants. It arranges all diseases by classes, orders, genera and species and, 
regarding them as fixed entities, makes in a sense a system of the whole of 
medicine. Although up to a certain point logical, such a system is un- 
natural, and while Cullen's classification greatly simplified medicine and 
established his reputation during his lifetime, it fell into complete disuse half a 
century after his death. 1 

His great The influence that he exerted on the public mind, and the great attraction 

reputation ^ e exerc i sec i m bringing students from a distance, were due to his clearness 

of perception, sound reasoning and judgment, more than to any originality. 
As a lecturer, he had powers of interesting his students and inspiring them with 
enthusiasm. One of his pupils highly commended his excellent arrangement, 
his memory of facts, and the ease, variety, vivacity and force of his lectures. 
He lived at a time when medical practice was driven hither and thither by 
conflicting theories and systems, which his clear mind and power of expression 
enabled him to codify and set in their proper places. In his day, theories 
as to the nature of life and vital processes were considered all-important, a 
matter which is difficult to understand in the present age, when the human 
mind accepts the mystery of life as a fact, and inquires only into the ways in 
which it is manifested. 

Cullen adopted a standpoint somewhere between the views of his immediate 
predecessors, Stahl and Boerhaave. Stahl had explained all vital phenomena 
by reference to the activity of a "sentient soul," while Boerhaave, the great 
upholder of the iatro-mechanical school of thought, was purely materialistic in 
regard to the action of the nervous system. Cullen adhered to the views of 

1 See Thomson : " Life, Lectures and Writings of William Cullen, M.D." Edinburgh, 1859. 



his predecessor in the chair of medicine, Robert Whytt, who maintained a 
" sympathetic " action of all parts of the body connected by nerves and 
vessels; but he also supported the views of Haller, who postulated a vis insita 
in the individual tissues which rendered them excitable for independent action. 

Out of the question John Brown 
of "excitability" arose a 
great deal of trouble, 
about the year 1778, 
between Cullen and a 
rival lecturer, Dr. John 
Brown. Brown revived 
the ancient methodism 
of Asklepiades and pro- 
mulgated a simple idea 
with regard to the nature 
of vital processes and 
disease, which is known 
as the " Brunonian 
Theory," and which 
attributed disease pro- 
cesses to a state of too 
great or too little excita- 
bility of the tissues. 

All therapeutic Brunonian 
measures, therefore, re- theor y 
solved themselves into 
stimulation if the excit- 
ability was lessened, and 
soothing remedies if the 
excitability was too 
great. Brown's system, 
which was both easy to 
understand and required 
very little knowledge of 
John brown (173 6-178 8) medicine, not only 

appealed strongly to the 

Edinburgh students, but secured him a great following among scientific men 
all over Europe. He and Cullen engaged in much polemic writing on the 
subject, but Brown ultimately died from a practical application of his theories 
to his own person, by alternate recourse to stimulants and sedatives, and the 
dispute, so far as Edinburgh was concerned, ended. 

Another link with the Glasgow Medical School is formed by Joseph Black Joseph 

• Black 

(1728-1799), who may be described as the first of the scientific chemists as 



of carbon 

distinguished from medical chemists, and who succeeded Cullen as professor 
of chemistry at Edinburgh in 1766. He was born at Bordeaux, of 
Scottish parents, and, in 1746, commenced the study of medicine at Glasgow, 
where he had William Cullen for his teacher in chemistry. A close friend- 
ship sprang up between the two, which continued when Black went to Edinburgh 
in 175 1 to continue his medical studies. 

During 1752 - 1753 
Black busied himself in 
research for a solvent of 
urinary calculi. In the 
course of his experiments 
he discovered that the 
difference between cal- 
careous earth (limestone) 
and quicklime was pro- 
duced by the expulsion of 
a "fixed air," and that by 
the action of slaked lime 
upon the mild alkalis 
these were in turn rendered 
caustic by the transference 
of their "fixed air" to the 
slaked lime, whereby the 
latter again became mild. 
By quantitative experi- 
ments he found further 
that instead of gaining 
something from the fire 
(phlogiston), as was then 
the general view, the lime- 
stone had sustained a sub- 
stantial loss owing to the 
escape of a gas, to which, 
therefore, he gave the 
name of " fixed air." 

JOSEPH BLACK (1728-1799) 

Latent heat 

This discovery of carbon dioxide was embodied in his thesis, submitted 
in 1754 for the degree of M.D., entitled " De Humore Acido a Cibis Orto, 
et Magnesia Alba." He seems to have had some modest doubts as to 
whether this discovery was sufficient for an M.D. thesis. A fuller account in 
English of his experiments was published next year under the title " Experiments 
upon Magnesia Alba, Quicklime and some other Alcaline Substances." 

Black suggested to his friend Professor Cullen the investigation of the effects 
in producing cold by evaporating fluids, upon which Cullen subsequently published 
a short treatise. In the same connection Black, in 1762, discovered the principle 



of latent heat, which was described in a paper to the Philosophical Club of 
Glasgow, but was not published till it appeared in Black's " Lectures," edited 
by Robison, in 1803. The practical importance of Black's discovery was at once 
recognised by James Watt, through whose genius latent heat was transformed 
into useful mechanical work in the invention of the steam engine. 

Black and Cullen were two active early members of the Royal Society of 
Edinburgh, which was re-organised from the Philosophical Society with a Royal 
Charter in 1783. In 1757, Black was appointed professor of chemistry and 
medicine at Glasgow on the death of Professor Hamilton. 

In 1766, when Cullen was transferred from the chair of chemistry 
at Edinburgh to that of institutes of medicine, he was succeeded by his 
friend, Joseph Black. Black had engaged, during his time at Glasgow, in 
busy practice as a physician, but, on coming to Edinburgh, he devoted himself 
to research, mainly on the subject of latent heat, and to teaching. In 1795, 
Thomas Charles Hope was appointed joint professor of chemistry with him, 
and Black died in 1799. After his death, his lectures, expanded from his 
own notes, were published by his friend and colleague, Professor John Robison, 
in 1803, as " Lectures on the Elements of Chemistry, delivered in the University 
of Edinburgh." 

A younger contemporary of Joseph Black was Daniel Rutherford (1749-1819), 
the son of Dr. John Rutherford. In 1772, he submitted for the degree of M.D. 
a thesis entitled " De Aere Fixo Dicto, aut Mephitico." In this he pointed out 
that after Black's " fixed air " had been removed from respired air by caustic lye, 
the air still extinguished both flame and life no less than before, although it 
produced no precipitate with lime-water. This was the discovery of nitrogen 
gas. Although Daniel Rutherford's inclinations lay towards chemistry, he was 
later appointed professor of medicine and botany in 1786. 

The subject of materia medica was separated from that of botany in 1768, 
when Francis Home (1719-1813), was appointed to fill the newly-instituted chair 
of materia medica. Francis Home had been apprenticed to an Edinburgh prac- 
titioner named Rattray, and was an early member of the Royal Medical Society. 
He had served with distinction in the British army during the war of the Austrian 
Succession, and, while in Flanders with the army, he seized the opportunity to 
attend the lectures of Boerhaave at Leyden. Returning to Edinburgh, he 
graduated M.D. in 1750. and, in 1752, joined the Royal College of Physicians. 

It is interesting to note that while he had been surgeon to Colonel Cope's 
dragoons in Flanders, he had drawn up, at the desire of the commanding officer, 
a series of regimental orders for the prevention of fever, and among these was the 
instruction " the dragoons shall drink no water without it be first boiled " — perhaps 
the earliest order issued to this effect. 

Several of the most important medical observations made in the 18th century 
were due to him. His M.D. thesis of 1750 had dealt with remittent fever. 
In 175 1, he published a small work dealing with the virtues of Duns spa, which 

Professor of 


Discovery of 


Boiling of 






believed to be anthelmintic because the earth-worm died sooner in this water 
than in ordinary spring water. A record of experiments on bleaching, published in 
1756, was awarded a payment of £100 by the Board of Trustees for the Improvement 
of Fisheries and Manufactures, and was considered to have been of great benefit 
to this industry. In the same year a treatise on the " Principles of Agriculture " 
was awarded a gold medal by the Edinburgh Society for the Improvement of Arts 
and Manufactures, and in it he endeavoured to introduce chemistry to the assistance 
of agriculture. In this book he is believed to have been the first to show that 
plants took up nutrient matter from the air. 

Measles was a disease very prevalent in Edinburgh about 1755, with a Croup 
mortality rate of about 10 per cent., and in a paper, published in this year, he 
suggests a method of inoculation for the prevention of the disease. His " Principia 

Medicinae " appeared in 1758, and in 
it he described a malignant form 
of angina, chiefly affecting children, 
very contagious, sometimes attacking 
a whole family and causing great 
weakness. In 1765, he dealt further 
with this subject in a short work on 
"Croup," which is said to have aroused 
the attention of the whole medical 
world. This was, in fact, the first 
description of the disease now known 
as diphtheria. 

Two years after he had been 
appointed professor of materia medica 
in the university, he published his 
" Methodus Materiae Medicae," a classi- 
fied syllabus of drugs for the use of 
students, which went through several 
editions. His last book, entitled 
" Clinical Experiments, Histories and 
Dissections," was published in 1780, 
and in it he mentions his discovery that 
the sugar of diabetic urine could be 
fermented with yeast. He retired in 1798, and was succeeded in the chair of 
materia medica by his son, James Home. 1 

The comprehensive course of lectures on anatomy begun by Professor Monro Anatomy 
in 1720 was continued every winter for nearly 40 years, a period during which 
the numbers of students attracted to Edinburgh yearly increased. 

(1733-1817), was educated with a Alexander 

Francis Home (17 19-1 

(From Kay's " Portraits ") 

1 3) 

His son, Alexander Monro (secundus) 
view to succeeding his father in the chair of anatomy, and at the age 

Monro (sec.) 

1 Home : Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, Vol. XXI., 1927-1928, P- 1013- 



number of 

of 21 was elected conjoint professor, taking full charge of the department 
at the age of 25, in 1758, when the first Monro restricted himself to 
teaching clinical medicine. Placed in easy circumstances from the outset, and 
provided with a class which came to him independently of any attractions he 
had to offer, Monro (secundus) might well have failed to reach the success as a 
teacher and as a citizen to which the first Monro had by his efforts attained. 
Yet the second Monro showed himself the greater man, both as a teacher and 

investigator, and, among more brilliant 
colleagues than those with whom his 
father had had to compete, he main- 
tained an easy equality and was the 
acknowledged head of the developing 
medical school. 

After studying medicine at Edin- 
burgh, he graduated M.D. in 1755, and 
afterwards proceeded for some time to 
Berlin, where he worked under the cele- 
brated Meckel, and to Leyden, returning 
to Edinburgh in 1758, and being elected 
a Fellow of the College of Physicians the 
following year. 

It is useful, as showing the progress 
of the Edinburgh Medical School, to con- 
sider the number of students attending 
the anatomy class during the decennial 
periods throughout the regime of the 
first two Monros. 1 

Alexander Monro (secundus) 
(From Kay's "Portraits" ) 

In 1720 
„ 173° 
„ 1740 
„ 1750 

57 Average 1760-1770 . . 194 

83 „ 1770-1780 . . 287 

130 „ 1780-1790 . . 342 

158 After 1800 . . over 400 


A short account of the lectures delivered by Monro ( secundus ) is given in the 
Memoir of his son. Monro was accustomed, after very careful preparation, to 
lecture in an extempore manner from headings, but a manuscript copy in excellent 
handwriting, taken down by one of his students, is preserved in the Library 
of the Edinburgh College of Physicians, and another in the Museum of the 
College of Surgeons. 

With regard to the contributions made by Monro (secundus) to the increase 
of anatomical knowledge, it is a striking fact that none of the great works on 
which his reputation chiefly rests was published till after he was 50 years 

1 Struthers : " The Edinburgh Anatomical School," Edinburgh, 1867, p. 23. 


of age. These were " Observations on the Structure and Functions of the 
Nervous System " (1783) ; " The Structure and Physiology of Fishes explained, 
and compared with those of Man and other Animals " (1785) ; " Description of 
the Bursse Mucosae of the Human Body " (1788) ; and " Treatise on the Brain, 
the Eye and the Ear " (1797). 

One of Monro's earliest fields of inquiry was on Discovery of 
the function of the lymphatic vessels, and his dispute b'mphatics 
with William Hunter for priority in the elucidation of their 
nature was one of the celebrated medical controversies of 
the 18th century. Up to 1755,. nobody had supposed 
that the lymphatic vessels were more than a class 
of very small veins originating like the " red veins " 
from the arteries. Monro (secundus), while in Berlin in 
I 757- published a Latin thesis, " De Venis Lymphaticis 
Valvulosis," in which he deals with their origin from 
spaces in the connective tissues. Hunter had mentioned 
the same thing in his lectures, and suggested that the 
lymphatics are the absorbents of the body, and 
Monro charged Hunter with having adopted the idea 
from him. 

He supported his contention by a letter from 
Joseph Black, dated 24th March, 1758, in which Black 
states that Monro had shown him a paper in 1755 in 
which he maintained that the lymphatics " are a distinct 
system of vessels, having no immediate connection with 
the arteries and veins, but arising, in small branches, 
from all the cavities and cells in the body, into which 
fluids are thrown ; and that their use is to absorb the 
whole, or the thinner parts, of these fluids, and restore 
them to the mass of circulating humours." 1 Monro's 
main method of proof had been by injecting the arteries 
in such a way as to rupture them, when he found that 
the injection fluid passed from the alveolar spaces 
into the neighbouring lymphatics, and, on the 
balance of probability, the original discovery that the 
lymphatics form an independent absorbent system is 
really His. 

A similar controversy was later raised with Hewson, who had been a pupil 
of Monro in Edinburgh and of Hunter in London, and who published, in 1774, his 
celebrated " Description of the Lymphatic System in the Human Subject and 

1 Monro : " Observations, Anatomical and Physiological," 1758, p. 27- 


burs/e mucosa of 
the Arm 

Drawn by A. Fyfe 

(Table I. from "Bursa: Mucosa 
of the Human Body," by 
Alexander Monro) 


in other Animals." The dispute this time was whether he or Monro had first 
discovered lymphatics in birds, amphibians, etc. 1 It is quite clear that Monro 
had shown injections of the lymphatics in these animals to his class before Hewson 
became a medical student, but he certainly never described and figured them 
with the fullness and accuracy of the latter's work. 

T A B L I. If! 

^rn m itn fiMr irprefaw thr to 
ihr turn! . . i.i.l — the U*l<i 
»ml »l[h th< dim) ttotnclr 

Pages from Monro "On the Brain" 
Showing his original description and figures of the "foramen of Monro" 

Monro Cn ° f Monro's " Observations on the Structure and Functions of the Nervous 

System" (1783) not only summarised and illustrated by admirable plates the 
current knowledge of the time, but contained numerous additions from his own 
observation. Among the new points described may be mentioned the foramen 
connecting the lateral and third ventricles, which has made his name familiar 
to every medical student. Monro's description runs : — 

" So far back as the year 1753, soon after I began the study of Anatomy, I dis- 
covered that the Lateral Ventricles of the Human Brain communicated with each other, 
and, at the same place, with the Middle or Third Ventricle of the Brain : And, as a 
passage from the Third Ventricle to the Fourth is universally known, it followed, that 
what are called the Four Ventricles of the Brain, are in reality different parts of 
one cavity." 2 

1 Monro : " Structure and Physiology of Fishes," 1785, P- 39- 

2 Monro : " The Brain, the Eye and the Ear," 1797, P- 9- 


The first observation of this foramen was made on a case of tuberculous 
meningitis seen in consultation with Robert Whytt, which also furnished the latter 
with part of the material for his original description of this disease. 1 

"The Structure and Physiology of Fishes" (1785) was the first important 
work on comparative anatomy in Edinburgh, and founded in Scotland a taste 

for that branch of science 
which had been recently 
introduced and elabora- 
ted by the Hunters and 
their pupils in London. 
Monro's " Description of Bi 
the Bursas Mucosae of the M 
Human Body " (1788) 
was of a more practical 
type, and of great im- 
portance in relation to 

His son, Alexander 
Monro (tertius) was con- 
joined with him in the 
professorship on 14th 
November, 1798, and 
Monro (secundus) then 
gave up lecturing, and 
died in 1817, after 63 
years' tenure of the 
anatomical chair. 

We must now con- 
sider the extra-academi- 
cal teachers of anatomy. 
The teaching of this 
subject began with the 
Guild of the Surgeons 
and Barbers long before 

the Town's College was founded. The capable brain of Dr. Archibald Pitcairne, 
about 1680, conceived the idea of founding a medical school in Edinburgh ; 
he was one of the three professors of medicine appointed in 1685 to the 
Town's College or University as it then began to be called ; and in the 
combined anatomical demonstrations of the Surgeons' Incorporation after his 
return from the Leyden professorship, he was, in 1702 and 1704, as we have 
seen, the guiding spirit. 

JOHN BELL (1763-1 820) 
(Original in The Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, London) 

1 "Works of Robert Whytt," 1768, p. 728. 



During the first 60 years of the Monro regime, the university had a 
monopoly of anatomical teaching, but it is a significant fact that though the 
first two Monros lectured on surgery, neither was an operating surgeon, and 
the second was a consulting physician with large practice. Anatomy in their hands, 
though brilliantly taught, naturally tended to become a formal systematic subject, 
John Bell and in 1786, John Bell (1763- 1820), returning to Edinburgh and becoming a Fellow 
of the College of Surgeons, saw a great chance. In his " Letters on the Education 
of a Surgeon," published in 1810, he says : 

" In Dr. Monro's class, unless there be a fortunate succession of bloody 
murders, not three subjects are dissected in the year. On the remains of a 
subject fished up from the bottom of a tub of spirits, are demonstrated those 
delicate nerves which are to be avoided or divided in our operations ; and 
these are demonstrated once at the distance of 100 feet ! — nerves and arteries 
which the surgeon has to dissect, at the peril of his patient's life." 1 

John Bell, therefore, began to lecture, and so successful was he in attracting 
students that, in 1790, he built an anatomical school adjoining on the east the 
Hall of the Surgeons in what was later called Surgeons' Square. He was not 
only an expert anatomist, but a good classical scholar, a skilful draughtsman and 
etcher, a ready speaker and a polished writer. It is no exaggeration to say that 
he founded the subject of Surgical Anatomy. The works and atlases of the great 
anatomists in the 18th century, e.g., Cheselden, Albinus, Haller, Winslow, Scarpa, 
Soemmering, even the Hunters, all treat the subject from the purely structural 
point of view. 

By these men the various systems and organs are correctly described and 
often beautifully figured, but the engravings of John Bell, and later of his 
brother Charles, have a teleological significance, their aim being not so much 
correctness, as utility to the operating surgeon. This feature is readily seen in 
John Bell's " Engravings of the Bones, Muscles and Joints," drawn and engraved 
by himself (1794). 

Bell was essentially a surgeon, and his only other anatomical work was 
the " Anatomy of the Human Body," published, Vol. L, 1793 ; Vol. II., 1797 ; 
Vol. III., 1802. He taught anatomy for 13 years and gave it up under peculiar 
circumstances. So successful had his anatomical classes proved, that a combination, 
Attacked by led by Dr. James Gregory, professor of the practice of medicine in the university, 
Gregory wag f ormec i against him, and he was pursued in a manner which for audacity, if 
not for bitterness, would be wellnigh impossible at the present day. 

The attack opened with a pamphlet addressed to students warning them 
against attending Mr. Bell's lectures. It was followed by a " Review of the 
Writings of John Bell, Surgeon in Edinburgh, by Jonathan Dawplueker " (Professor 
Gregory). This malignant attack was, as Bell states, " Stuck up like a Play- 
Bill, in a most conspicuous and unusual manner, on every corner of the city ; on 

1 John Bell : " Letters on the Education of a Surgeon," Edinburgh, 1S10 p. 579. 




the door of my lecture-room, on the gates of the College, where my pupils could not but 
pass, and on the gates of the Infirmary, where I went to perform my operations." 

As an example of the personal abuse to which Gregory descended may be Excluded 
cited : "Any man, if himself or his family were sick, should as soon think of calling fromthe 
in a mad dog, as Mr. John Bell." Bell, at a later period, replied to these attacks 

pungentlyand effectively, 
in a voluminous collec- 
tion of "Letters." 1 But 
Gregory's party having 
secured his exclusion 
from the hospital, there 
was nothing to be gained 
by Bell from further 
teaching. He therefore 
ceased to lecture in 1799, 
confining himself to 
surgical practice, in 
which he was for about 
20 years the leading 
operator and consultant 
throughout Scotland. 

Charles Bell (1774- 
1842) was younger than 
his brother John by 
eleven years, and was 
trained by him in ana- 
tomy and surgery. In 
this there is a sort of 
comparison with the 
brothers William and 
John Hunter, half a 
century earlier. Charles 
Bell began to assist in 
the anatomical class 
while still comparatively 
a boy, and, like John 
Bell, he had a genius 

for anatomical delineation. The same teleological tendency is seen in his 
drawings, directed in his earlier works, like that of his brother, towards 
surgery. These earlier works were a " System of Dissections " (published 
1792-1803), and " Engravings of the Arteries, of the Nerves, and of the 
Brain" (published 1801 and 1802), while his "Anatomy of Expression," though 
not published till 1806 in London, was mainly composed in Edinburgh. 


Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842) 
(Original in National Portrait Gallery) 

Early works 

John Bell : " Letters on the Education of a Surgeon," Edinburgh, 1810, pp. ix and 503. 



Removes to 

New idea of 
the nervous 

After the withdrawal of John Bell from teaching, Charles took over the anatomy 
class in 1799, but the opposition to his brother militated against his success, and 
he never attracted more than 90 students. He determined, therefore, in 1804, 
to remove to London, where, in 1811, he took over the old Hunterian Anatomical 
School in Windmill Street, where he spent 32 busy and eventful years. 

The Edinburgh School made some amends to Bell and to its own reputation 
by offering him the chair of surgery in 1836, when the Gregory faction had passed 
away. We are not concerned here with his London period, but one important 
field of his activities must be mentioned, to which he had been directing attention 
in the early Edinburgh days, and upon which his fame largely rests. 

Since the days of Whytt and Haller, the 
minute ramifications of the nervous system 
had been a matter of common knowledge ; 
but the nerves were regarded as merely 
exerting some vague influence over the parts / -L : 

to which they were distributed, and effecting 
a sympathy between different regions of the 
body. Whytt, in 1755, was ahead of his time 
in expressing the opinion that " the power of 
motion, when stimulated, proceeds from the 
nerves, or is at least immediately dependent 
on their influence." 1 Charles Bell was the 
first to whom it occurred that definite nerves 
have a definite course from some part of the 
brain to a certain portion of the periphery, 
and, further, that different nerves have quite 
distinct functions. 

This led to his " Idea of a New Anatomy 
of the Brain," printed for distribution in 1811, 
but often mentioned by him before that time. 
This publication included the specific instance 
of the motor function of the anterior nerve 
roots, first discovered by him. It led to the 
more complete demonstration of motor and 
sensory nerves by Magendie in 1822, to the 
localisation of the noeud vital by Flourens in 
1837, and to the great subsequent develop- 
ments in mapping out nerve paths and centres 
in the brain and cord. 

Charles Bell, like Harvey, was thus a 
pioneer in scientific medicine, and it gives no cause for wonder that on one occasion 
when Bell was visiting Paris, Roux dismissed his class without the lecture for 
the day with the words : " C'est assez, Messieurs, vous avez vu Charles Bell." 2 


drawn by Charles Bell 
(Plate IX. from " The Nervous System of the Human 
Body," by Sir Charles Bell) 

1 " Works of Robert Whytt," 1768, p. 324. 

2 Struthers : " The Edinburgh Anatomical School," Edinburgh, 1867, p. 54. 



The episode of surgical anatomy in Edinburgh ended for a time when Charles 
Bell shook off the dust of this city from his feet in 1804, but this branch 
was revived some 20 years later by a brilliant group of surgeon anatomists, 
including Lizars, Liston, Syme and Fergusson. 

In 1770, the medical school of the university was augmented, apparently Natural 
in a somewhat unexpected manner, by the Crown. In January of that year, J£ st - ory 
Dr. Robert Ramsay presented a petition to the Town Council, stating that he had 
been appointed by the king, on 13th March, 1767, regius professor of natural history 
and keeper of the museum in the university, with a salary of £70 per annum. 
He craved that the Town Council would concur. This was done, and Dr. Ramsay 
was given an inventory of the curiosities belonging to the university. 

This natural history museum had been gradually collected during the previous Museum 
century, Dr. Andrew Balfour and Sir Robert Sibbald having been enthusiastic in 
collecting natural curiosities from all countries. In 1697, Sibbald had presented 
his specimens to the College of Edinburgh, along with a catalogue which bore the 
title " Auctorium Musaei Balfouriani e Musaeo Sibbaldiano." Sibbald's collection 
was gradually augmented, and the Town Council, when they appointed the first 
professor of anatomy in 1705, instructed him to take exact notice and inspection 
of the rarities of the college. 

The collection later fell into disorder, and by 1770, when Ramsay was appointed 
the first professor of natural history, Sibbald's museum had practically disappeared, 
the only article from it left at the present day being a horn removed from a woman's 
head, which is now in the anatomical museum of the university, with a silver plate 
attached, upon which the history of the patient is recorded. Ramsay appears 
to have bestirred himself little, either to add to the museum or to give lectures, 
but, on his death in 1779, Dr. John Walker was appointed his successor, and 
immediately commenced to get together a new natural history collection for the 
use of his class, to which he gave a regular course of lectures. He was succeeded 
in the chair by Dr. Robert Jameson in 1804, and for 50 years this professor 
continued with great success to gather contributions to the museum from all parts 
of the world. 

In 1819, the collection was supplemented by the Senatus, who purchased the 
natural history collection of M. du Fresne in Paris for £3000, and in the following 
year a regius museum of natural history for the reception of the various collections 
was completed, occupying the whole of the west end of the university quadrangle. 
Still further additions were made to this collection, which, about the middle of 
the 19th century, was considered one of the great features of the university. In 
1852, the Senatus petitioned the Government to take over the natural history 
collection of the university, which had become too large for the museum provided, 
and the university museum, passing under the control of the Government, formed 
the nucleus for the neighbouring museum of science and art. 1 

1 Grant : " Story of the University of Edinburgh," London, 1884, Vol. I., p. 374. 

3 2S 


Proposals for 
a chair of 


The development of the faculty of medicine in the university during the 
first three-quarters of a century of its existence was chiefly along the lines of 
medicine, although several important representatives of surgical practice were found 
in the Incorporation of Surgeons. The subject of surgery was treated simply as an 
appendix to the lectures on anatomy delivered by the first two Monros, of whom 
the second was a consulting physician with a large practice. 

Efforts were made, chiefly by the Incorporation of Surgeons, to bring about 
more thorough teaching of surgery. Thus, Alexander Hamilton, on becoming 
Deacon of the Incorporation in 1777, made a strenuous attempt to have the separate 
teaching of surgery introduced in the university, and did not hesitate to declare 
the great Monro (secundus) "unable to give the 
rudiments of the art of surgery." Monro is said 
never to have operated as a surgeon, though 
he was consulted in surgical cases. 

At a later date the University Commis- 
sioners of 1826 made a strong recommendation 
that surgery should be taught as a separate 
subject from anatomy, and that a chair in the 
former should be founded, but all these efforts 
were resisted as an infringement of the in- 
terests of the Monro family, until the College 
of Surgeons, by an amusing expedient which 
will be mentioned later, forced the appoint- 
ment in 1831 of a professor of surgery to the 

One of the best known of the 18th century 
Edinburgh surgeons was Alexander Wood 
(1725 -1807), known to his contemporaries as 
" Lang Sandy Wood," and greatly respected 
for his dexterity in practice, which did much 
to raise the reputation of the surgical 
department in the Royal Infirmary, as 
well as beloved for his amiable social qualities, 
in a day when Edinburgh doctors were celebrated for disputation and 
bickering, is summed up in a couplet by the writer of a parody on Byron's 
" Childe Harold " :— 

"Oh, for one hour of him who knew no feud, 
Th' octogenarian chief, the kind old Sandy Wood." 1 

John Kay has represented him in wig and cocked hat with an umbrella 
under his arm, in allusion to the fact that he was the first person in Edinburgh 

("Lang Sandy Wood") (1725-1807) 
(From Kay's "Portraits") 

The general opinion of him, 

' "Fragment of a Fifth Canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," Black.ouil's Mugmine, May, 181S, p. 202. 



to make use of the latter article. At a time when personal peculiarity was 
widely affected by Edinburgh people, Wood specially distinguished himself by 
going to see his patients accompanied by a pet sheep and raven. 

James Rae (1716-1791) entered the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1747, and James Rae 
was Deacon in 1764. He came of a Stirlingshire family, of whom several were 
distinguished in medicine, one having been physician to Charles I. He was a 
talented surgeon and was one of the first in Edinburgh to urge that surgery 

Group of Edinburgh doctors 
showing from left to right, Mr. James Rae, Dr. William Laing with his niece, and 
Sir James Hay, Bart., M.D., of Hayston 
(From Kay's "Portraits") 

deserved to be taught in a complete course of lectures, apart from anatomy. 

He devoted special attention to diseases of the teeth, and gave occasional Dentistry 

lectures upon dentistry. 

About the vear 1766, he began a course of general lectures on surgery, which Corneal 
proved popular "with the students, so that in 1769, they requested him to deliver i ectuT - s 
lectures upon surgical cases in the Royal Infirmary. This project being approved 
both by the Incorporation of Surgeons and by the Managers of the Royal Infirmary, 



he conducted clinical lectures for a period of several years, and was thus the first 
lecturer upon clinical surgery in Edinburgh. 
John Rae Rae originally practised in a house at the head of the old Fleshmarket Close, 

and afterwards removed to the Castlehill. 1 His son, John Rae, entered the Royal 
College of Surgeons in 1781, and was its president in 1804. Like his father, he paid 
special attention to dentistry, and was so skilled in the extraction of teeth, that 

A Convivial Incident of the 18th Century 

On the left is John Rae carrying a bottle, in attendance on Mr. Hamilton 
Bell, W.S., who for a wager is carrying a vintner's boy in the morning 
hours to Musselburgh, whose fish-wives are seen on the right. 
(From Kay's "Portraits") 

a celebrated wit, the Hon. Henry Erskine, described an operation conducted by 
him as being " suaviter in modo et fortiter in RE." In the days of threatened 
Napoleonic invasion he was a celebrated volunteer, and died in 1808. 2 

1 Kay: " A Series of Original Portraits," Edinburgh, 1842, Vol. I., p. 424; also Gibson: "An Edinburgh Medical 

Family," Edinburgh Medical Journal, July, 1929, p. 419. 
! Kay: Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 283. 



Benjamin Bell (1749-1806) was a native of Dumfries, where he served Benjamin 
an apprenticeship to Mr. James Hill, surgeon. At the age of 17, he came to Bdl 
Edinburgh to attend the medical classes, and afterwards spent two' years in the 
great surgical school of Paris, and in London, where he studied under William 
Hunter. His reason for going abroad indicates the character of the Edinburgh 
Medical School in 1770. He said : " Had I been now entering to the 

world as a physician, 
I should never have 
thought of going farther 
than where I have been ; 
but for a surgeon, I 
assure you Edinburgh 
comes greatly short of 
either Paris or London, 
and for that reason, 
Dr. Monro and any 
others that I have spoke 
to here upon the subject, 
approve of the scheme 
very much." 1 

Benjamin Bell should His works 
be regarded as the first 
of the Edinburgh scien- 
tific surgeons. He was 
one of the first to seek 
for some means of pre- 
venting or diminishing 
pain in surgical opera- 
tions, and, in his 
" System of Surgery," 
described several methods 
for effecting this, which, 
however, were superseded 
60 years afterwards hy 
the introduction of ether 
and chloroform. 

BENJAMIN BELL (1 749- 1 806) 

In his paper, " On the Chirurgical Treatment of Inflammation " (1777), he 
described the use of the seton, a practice recommended 30 years earlier by 
James Rae. His most important contribution to surgery was his " Treatise on 
Gonorrhoea Virulenta and Lues Venerea," published in 1793, in which, for the first 
time, he distinguished clearly between these two diseases. His " System of Surgery," 
in six volumes, was an attempt to rival Heister's " System of Surgery," the great 

1 " The Life, Character and Writings of Benjamin Bell," by his Grandson, Benjamin Bell, Edinburgh, 1808, p. 23. 



surgical text-book of that time, and though it was unfavourably criticised, both 
by his contemporary John Bell and by Sir Benjamin Brodie, it went through seven 
editions and was translated into French and German. 1 

Other In addition to those physicians and surgeons who have been already 

Edinburgh mentioned as teachers in the Edinburgh Medical School during the latter 

surgeons ° . ° 

half of the 18th century, several others rose to distinction as practitioners 

or in other fields. 

William Graeme, who joined the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1725, delivered 
lectures in the theatre of the Surgeons' Hall after Monro had transferred his 

anatomical class to the university. He was 
the author of an " Essay for Reforming 
the Modern Way of Practising Physic at 
Edinburgh," and he afterwards went to 
practise in London. 

James Russell, who joined the Incor- 
poration of Surgeons in 1747, became 
professor of natural philosophy in the 
University of Edinburgh in 1764, and was 
father of the first professor of clinical 
surgery in the university of the same name. 

Robert Walker (1718-1791), who joined 
the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1747, had 
a distinguished service as a naval surgeon, 
and was the author of an important 
" Enquiry into the Smallpox, Medical and 
Political," published in 1790. 

Among the Edinburgh physicians of 
this period who deserve mention was 
Sir John Pringle, celebrated as a military 
physician. During his period of practice 
in Edinburgh he also acted as professor 
benjamin bell of moral philosophy in the University of 

(From Kay's "Portraits") Edinburgh from 1734 to 1745. (See 

Chapter XVII.). 

Sir Stuart Threipland, who will be more fully noticed in the same military 
connection, graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 1742, and in 1744 joined the College 
of Physicians, of which he later became president. 

William Buchan, who graduated at Edinburgh in 1761, practised for a time 
in Edinburgh and afterwards went to London. He is noticed in Chapter XVII. 

1 Miles : " The Edinburgh School of Surgery before Lister," London, 1918, p. 59. 


James Latta, who joined the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1783, was the 
author of " A Practical System of Surgery." 

William Brown, who joined the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1793, was for some 
time in the navy and afterwards passed into the Russian service as a physician 
in Siberia. He was the author of several treatises on " The Establishment of a 
Universal Written Character," " Observations on the Course of Fever in Britain," 
" The Power of Medicine in Controlling Fever," etc. 

Adam Austin (1728-17 73) 

(Original by Allan Ramsay in the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh) 

Adam Austin (1728-1773), who joined the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1749, 
and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1762, was placed in 
charge of the military wards in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. 



Nathaniel Spens, who joined the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1751, and became 
President of the Royal College of Physicians in 1794, graduated at St. Andrews 
and practised in Edinburgh, but is chiefly remembered at the present day 
because he formed the subject of what is generally regarded as the chief 
masterpiece executed by Sir Henry Raeburn. The painter has represented him 
in the uniform of the Royal Bodyguard of Archers, in which he held the rank 
of Adjutant-General. 

The general type, and some of the peculiarities of medical practitioners in Edinburgh 
the 18th century, can be gathered from the etchings and biographical notices of P ractltlon ers 
John Kay. These concern practitioners 
in Edinburgh, who, however, were 
doubtless representative of their medical 
contemporaries in other Scottish towns. 

Dr. Glen, whose brother was Governor 
of one of the West India islands, had 
also practised abroad, made a fortune 
and returned to his native country. 

chiefly for his parsi- 
illustration of which 
when he married for 
the age of seventy, 
one of the inducements held out to the 
prospective Mrs. Glen was the promise of 
a carriage. After marriage, the doctor was 
faithful to this promise, and the carriage 
was procured — but no horses, the doctor 
pointing out that this was more than he 
had bargained for. When his wife died, 
he adopted the ingenious expedient, with 
a view to lessening the funeral expenses, 
of attempting to procure a second-hand mm 
cofhn to hold the remains. 1 

Dr. Gregory Grant was another 
Edinburgh physician who had graduated 

at Leyden in 1740, and practised for a time at Rotterdam. Returning to Edinburgh, 
he lectured upon practice of physic about 1770, had a large practice, and 
was a great entertainer, his house in James's Court being celebrated for its musical 
suppers, attended by the Duchess of Gordon and other ladies of high rank. 
When he visited patients in the country, he rode a cream-coloured horse, followed 
by a servant wearing the Grant livery. 2 

Mr. John Shiells was a surgeon and apothecary who died in 1798, leaving a 
good deal of money, although his charge for a visit had been the modest sum of 

He was celebrated 
monious habits, in 
it is recorded that 
a second time, at 

(From Kay's 

1 Portraits ") 

Kay : " A Series of Original Portraits," Edinburgh, 1842, Vol. I., p. 26. 
Kay : Op. cit., Vol. II., p. 109. 



one shilling. He made his rounds up 
who carried his walking stick and held 
of the patients. 1 

(From Kay's "Portraits") 

in jovial mood took their seats, and, 
to the amazement of a crowd, were 
driven in slow time from the inn at 
Leith where they had dined, to be 
deposited at the theatre. 2 

An extraordinary character was 
Dr. James Graham, born at Edinburgh 
in T/45- After studying medicine at 
Edinburgh, he practised in England 
and later in America, where he made 
a great deal of money. Returning to 
London, he established his " Temple of 
Health" in Pall Mall, an establishment 

. a grey pony, followed on foot by a boy 
le horse while his master was in the houses 

Mr. John Bennet, after acting for 
some years as surgeon to the Sutherland 
Fencibles, entered into a surgical partner- 
ship in Edinburgh in 1783, and became 
president of the Royal College of Surgeons 
in 1803. He was celebrated as a practical 
joker in an age when frolics among 
the medical profession were extremely 
fashionable. On one occasion, when enter- 
taining a numerous company to dinner 
and the theatre, in fulfilment of a wager 
which he had lost, he provided a number 
of mourning coaches in which the diners 

(From Kay's 'Portraits" ) 

1 Kay : " A Series of Original Portraits," Edinburgh, Vol. I., p. 397- 

2 Kay : Op. cit., Vol. I., p. 401. 


" in which all the exertions of the painter and statuary— all the enchantments of 
vocal and instrumental music — all powers of electricity and magnetism were called 
into operation to enliven and heighten the scene. In a word, all that could delight 
the eye or ravish the ear— all that could please the smell, give poignancy to the 
taste, or gratify the touch, were combined to give effect to his scheme." 

James Graham ( 1 7 45-17 9 4) 
crossing old North Bridge, Edinburgh 
(From Kay's "Portraits") 

In 1783, he returned to his native city, where he commenced to lecture upon 
the preservation of health, and attracted notice by dressing in white linen clothes 
with black stockings, and by driving about the city in a carriage of the most 
splendid description, attended by servants in gorgeous liveries. He was assisted 
in his lectures by Vestina, a beautiful young woman who appeared on a pedestal 
at the lecture, and subsequently became Lady Hamilton. The magistrates of 







Edinburgh disapproved of his lectures and fined him £20, but he continued to 
give more and more eccentric discourses in the New Jerusalem Church, until, in 
1788, he developed such signs of insanity that he had to be placed under restraint. 
He died six years later. 1 

An important part in the educational advantages of the Edinburgh Medical 
School has been played by a medical society of students which commenced in the 
year 1734. In August of that year, six men studying medicine at Edinburgh 

Surgeons' Square in 1829 
Showing from left to right, Surgeons' Hall of 1697, Gordon's Class-room, Knox's (formerly Barclay's) Class-room, 

and Royal Medical Society's Hall 

-Dr. Cleghorn, Dr. Cuming, Dr. Russel, Dr. Hamilton, Mr. Archibald Taylor 
and Dr. James Kennedy — who were in the habit of spending social evenings together 
at a tavern, decided that this little society should meet regularly once a fortnight 
at their respective lodgings, when a dissertation in English or Latin on some medical 
subject should be read by each of the members in rotation and criticised by the 
other five. In 1735, Cleghorn, who later became professor of anatomy in Dublin, 
was the only member left in Edinburgh. He and some other students, including 
William Cullen, who had come to Edinburgh as a student, and John Fothergill, 

1 Kay : "A Series of Original Portraits," Edinburgh, 1842, Vol. I., p. 30. 



continued the meetings, and the Society was definitely constituted as the Medical 
Society of Edinburgh by ten members towards the end of the year 1737. 
Mr. (later Sir) Stuart Threipland, the physician of Prince Charlie, was one of 
the members in this year. (See Chapter XVII.). 

The meetings took place in a tavern until the year 1763, when the Early 
Society obtained permission from the Managers of the Royal Infirmary to hold meetin g s 
the weekly meetings in a room of the hospital. At the same time, the Society 
began to collect a library, which, by 1778, amounted to about 1500 volumes. 
A proposal was made about this time to build a hall for the meetings, which was 
warmly supported by various friends among the professors and the practitioners 
of Edinburgh, particularly by Doctors Cullen, Hope and Duncan. Finally, under 
the presidentship of Mr. Gilbert Blane, the foundation stone of the Medical Hall 
was laid by Dr. Cullen, and the Hall on the west side of Surgeons' Square was 
opened on 26th April, 1776. 

The Society has included in its list of members the names of many men who Famous 
afterwards attained eminence, and among those in the early days are the names members 
of Mark Akenside (1740) and Oliver Goldsmith (1753). 

Signature of Oliver Goldsmith 
on joining the Medical Society, on January 13, 1753 

Goldsmith also attended the classes taught by Monro, Plummer and Alston. 
After a session of medical study in Edinburgh, he went on to Leyden, and from there 
he wrote home to say " Physic is by no means taught so well here as in Edinburgh ; 
and in all Leyden there are but four British Students, owing to all necessaries 
being so extremely dear, and the Professors so very lazy (the Chemical Professor 
excepted) that we don't much care to come hither." 1 

From its list of annual presidents, many have become teachers in the Edinburgh 
School or have attained distinction in other places. In the present Hall are two 
memorial tablets to presidents of the Society, Jacob Pattisson and Francis 
Foulke, who died during their terms of office. The latter was killed in a duel 
on 22nd December, 1789. A quarrel with an officer, Mr. G., having occurred, a 
challenge ensued, and the two met on Seafield Sands attended by their seconds. 
At the third discharge of pistols, Foulke fell with a bullet in his heart. 2 

1 Quoted by Grant : " Story of the University of Edinburgh," Vol. II., p. 493. 

2 Grant : " Old and New Edinburgh, " Vol. III., p. 266. 






New hall 


A Royal Charter was obtained for the Society from King George III. in 
December, 1779, largely by the exertions of Dr. Andrew Duncan. At this time 
there was a kind of obsession for the foundation of Societies, both among the 
students and the practitioners of the town. These included the Medico- 
Chirurgical Society (founded in 1767), the Physico-Chirurgical Society (1771), 
the Chirurgo-Physical Society, the American Physical Society, the Hibernian 
Medical Society, the Chemical Society, the Natural History Society and the 
Didactic Society. All of these waned and were one by one absorbed by the 
Royal Physical Society, which was incorporated in 1788, after erecting 
a hall in immediate proximity to the Royal Public Dispensary in 1784. 

The Royal Medical Society, however, continued to nourish as a meeting- 
place for students. Its objects, in the words of an early president, were " mutual 
improvement and the investigation of truth ; the development of the seeds of 
genius, and the detection of falsehood ; the emancipation of the mind from the 
fetters of prejudice, and the cultivation of true friendship by social and liberal 
intercourse." At its weekly meetings during the winter session, the plan proposed 
at the beginning of the Society was followed, by which the members in turn 
submitted a dissertation on some prescribed subject, which was discussed by the 
Society, with occasional addresses from former members, and debates. 

In the middle of the 19th century, partly in consequence of the Society 
having outgrown its premises at Surgeons' Square, partly because these 
premises were showing signs of decay, and partly because the character of the 
locality at Surgeons' Square had changed, the present Hall at Melbourne Place 
was opened on 7th November, 1852. 1 

During the latter half of the 18th century, Edinburgh was the great medical 
resort of all the Britons beyond the seas, much as Leyden had been the resource for 
those who wished to take a medical degree half a century earlier. The number 
of graduates is not, however, an indication of the number of students, for many 
men who studied medicine at Edinburgh took the qualification of the College of 
Surgeons, while, right up to the passing of the Medical Act in 1858, a large 
number of students were content to learn their profession as apprentices to some 
practitioner, and to take a few classes at some medical school, such as Edinburgh, 
without proceeding to graduation. Out of 13 graduates in 1765, five belonged 
to Scotland, five were American, two English and one Irish. In 1787, after 
the troubles connected with the War of American Independence had subsided, 
out of 44 graduates, 19 were Scottish, nine English, six came from America, 
and 10 were Irish. 

During the century following 1765, when the Medical Faculty had been in 
existence 40 years, no fewer than 650 students coming from the Americas 
(including the West Indies and Canada) graduated at Edinburgh University. 
This figure does not include a number, probably larger still, who came to take a 

1 Stroud : " History of the Royal Medical Society," Edinburgh, 1820. 



few classes after receiving a degree elsewhere, or who took the licentiateship of 
the College of Surgeons at Edinburgh. 

Several of the most distinguished pioneers of American medicine graduated 
at Edinburgh : for example, William Shippen (with a thesis entitled " De 
Placentae cum Utero Nexu," 1761), John Morgan (" De Puris Confectione," 1763), 
Samuel Bard (" De Viribus Opii," 1765), Benjamin Rush (" De Coctione 
Ciborum in Ventriculo," 1768), and Philip Syng Physic (" De Apoplexia," 1792). 1 
Ephraim McDowell, the Kentucky ovariotomist, studied in Edinburgh (1793 -1794), 
though he did not graduate. 

Student life at Edinburgh has, in general, shown little corporate character. Student 

At the time when the Town's College was founded, the original idea of the Town llfe ' n l8tl 


Council was that the college should contain resident students with an " economy," 
or common table, but funds were never available for this purpose. A few students 
resided in chambers provided in the college, and catered for themselves, but by 
degrees the students ceased to occupy these chambers, and by the early part of 
the 18th century college residence had virtually ceased, students living at home 
or in lodgings. Student life thus merged in the life of the ordinary citizens. 
The Town Council also at first laid down a rule that students must wear gowns, 
but this was never enforced. 2 

Prior to 1726, persons learning the art of medicine in Edinburgh were 
apprentices either of the surgeons or physicians, living in their families, and had 
no connection with the Town's College, where medicine was not yet taught. 
No doubt these apprentices often took part with students of the Town's College 
in such events, for example, as the celebrated burning of the pope's effigy in 
December, 1680, when the Duke of York was in residence at Holyrood. On that 
occasion the students, joined by a large accession of apprentices, successfully 
evaded the troops drawn up in the Grassmarket, Parliament Close, and other open 
spaces, and pursuing a course by some of the narrow closes, set fire to the pope's 
effigy in the High Street and scattered before the troops could interfere. 

Shortly after 1726, when the Medical Faculty was founded in the university, 
medical students began to exert themselves in the formation of societies, of which 
the Royal Medical Society was the chief, and these introduced a great deal of 
critical and corporate intellectual activity. 

Frugality was practised by many students at Edinburgh as at the other Scottish Frugality 
universities in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Principal Lee, in his evidence 
before the Commission of 1826, gave some instances of this. He mentioned, for 
example, a student who during two sessions had, on an average, spent 6s. gd. 
weekly, amounting in a session of 24 weeks to £S 2s., and receiving in this time 
only occasional supplies of food from the country. He breakfasted on porridge and 
milk, he had for dinner broth and a little meat, or bread and milk, or potatoes 
and herrings, and had tea in the afternoon, but no supper. 

1 " Edinburgh Medical Graduates, 1 705-1866," Edinburgh, 1867. 

2 Grant : " Story of the University of Edinburgh," London, 1884, Vol. II., p. 4°9- 

34 2 


Lee also mentioned two students who lived together all the winter on 5s. a 
week each, or £6 in six months, and he also instanced some students who scarcely 
ever used candles, but prepared their lessons by the light of the fire. These were, 
however, undoubtedly extreme instances. 

Duels between Edinburgh students were not uncommon in the 18th and early 
19th centuries, and were sometimes attended by fatal results, as in the case already 
mentioned of the duel between a president of the Royal Medical Society and 
an officer. Another duel, which seems to have been conducted with singular 
determination, is mentioned by Kay. 

" ' Wednesday morning, July 3 (1805), a duel was fought, in the neighbourhood 
of Duddingstone, between Mr. Romney and Mr. Leckie, students attending the 
medical classes in the University, when the latter received a wound in the groin, 
in consequence of which he died next Saturday morning. Four shots were, we 
understand, exchanged. Mr. Leckie received his wound by the first fire, but did 
not discover it. After shaking hands with his antagonist, he declared he was 
mortally wounded, and desired Mr. Romney, the seconds, and the surgeons, who 
attended, to make their escape, which they accordingly did.' " 1 

So notorious, indeed, was quarrelsomeness among Edinburgh professors and 
Edinburgh students about this time, that Benjamin Franklin, in his Autobiography 
(written about 1771), says : — 

" There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, 
with whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed . . . 
which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, 
making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction 
that is necessary to bring it into practice ; and thence, besides souring and 
spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities, 
where you may have occasion for friendship. . . . Persons of good sense 
I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, 
and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough." 2 

1 Kay : "A Series of Original Portraits," Edinburgh, 1842, Vol. I., p. 403 

2 Franklin: "Autobiography," London, 1905, Everyman edition, p. 17. 

Chapter XV 

The Early Medical School of Glasgow to the 
End of t h e Eighteenth Century 

Glasgow, until the early part of the 19th century, was not a town of great size. Early state 
About the middle of the 16th century it seems to have occupied only the of Glas 8 ow 
nth place in size among the Scottish towns, with a population of between 4000 
and 5000, 1 and even at the beginning of the 17th century it occupied about 
the same relative position. It consisted practically only of the High Street, 

Glasgow, in the 17th Century, from the East 
The Bishop's Castle, upon the site of which the Royal Infirmary was built, is shown beyond the Cathedral. 
The College is in the centre of the spires to the left 
(Engraving by Slezer) 

crossed at its upper end by Rotten Row, and at its southern end by the Trongate, 
with a few straggling houses between this and the Clyde, and numerous narrow 
wynds branching off from both sides of the main streets. The College was in 
the High Street not far from the Cathedral. Most of the houses had gardens 
behind, and, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Glasgow must have been a pleasant 
little town. 

1 Gibson : " History of Glasgow," Glasgow, 1777, P- 78. 


In the early part of the 12th century, David I. settled a bishop at Glasgow, University 
and, in 1175, William the Lion granted to the bishop the right of having a burgh founded 
of barony, although the place was not a royal burgh. In these surroundings 
a " studium generate " was founded at the instance of Bishop Turnbull by a 
Bull of Pope Nicholas V., in 145 1, and this, in a letter of James IT., under the 
Great Seal in 1453, is called the University of Glasgow. Medicine does not, 
however, appear to have been actively taught in this university for a long time 
after its foundation. In 1469, Andrew de Garleis, Doctor in Medicinis, seems 
to have been admitted to the university, but there is no further trace of him. 
In 1536, Andrew Borde speaks of studying and practising medicine in Glasgow, 
where his services were in request and countenanced by the university. 
He was an agent of Thomas Cromwell, maintaining communication with the 
political party favourable to England. 1 

The early meetings of the university were held in religious houses connected 
with the Cathedral, and, in 1460, Lord Hamilton gifted a tenement with surrounding 
ground in the High Street, which was subsequently augmented by the gift of a 
neighbouring tenement and strip of land. 

In the 16th century, barber-surgeons and physicians probably came from other Barbers and 

places and settled in Glasgow, and it appears from records of the Town Council, P h y sic i ans 
mentioning regulations directed against plague, leprosy and other diseases, that 
the Council had the benefit of expert advice in these matters. 

Plague was a serious and destructive disease to the early inhabitants of Glasgow. 
It appeared several times during the 14th century. 2 In the 15th century and 
16th century, the city was four times ravaged by plague: namely, in 1455, 1501, 
1515 and 1545, 3 and at this time Glasgow was a place of suspicion to the neigh- 
bouring authorities of Edinburgh. In 1584 and 1588, when plague was present in 
the burghs of the Fife coast and in Paisley, the Glasgow authorities established 
a rigid quarantine against the infected districts, and the danger was averted. 

The most serious epidemic of the plague which visited Glasgow was that of 
1645-1648, when a house-to-house visitation was adopted, daily reports sent to 
the magistrates regarding the sick, and an old expedient, which had been previously 
tried, of transporting the plague-stricken out of town to the muir, was practised. 
At this time the principal, regents and other members of the College were 
transferred to the town of Irvine. Long before 1665, however, when the plague 
made its memorable visitation of London, Glasgow had been freed by these 
means from the dreaded disease. 4 

To compensate for the scanty inducements to ordinary practice, the Town Town 
Council of Glasgow, at an early period, began to offer salaries to doctors whom ^^j^ 
they invited to settle in the place. There is a minute of the Town Council of doctors 
17th May, 1577, to the effect that " Allexander Hay, chirurgiane," was granted 

1 Buist : " Andrew Borde," Caledonian Medical Journal, June, 1921. 

2 Gibson : " History of Glasgow," pp. 72 and 73. 

' Coutts : " History of the University of Glasgow," Maclehose, Glasgow, 1909, p. 3. 

4 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, 1599-1850," Glasgow, 1896, pp. 10 and 11 



a yearly pension of ten merks, to be paid by the Treasurer of the town, while, 
at the same time, he was made a burgess and freeman of the burgh, and to be free 
from taxes, conformably to the privilege held by James Abernethie, his master, 
previously. 1 In 1589, it is recorded that Thomas My In, a salaried surgeon, 

was brought up before 
the Council for speaking 
slanderously of the town, 
calling it the " hungrie 
toun of Glasgw." For 
this offence, the culprit 
was ordained to forfeit his 
pension for one year, the 
money to go to the im- 
provement of the burgh. 2 
Allaster M'Caslan was 
another surgeon mentioned 
as being paid by the 
baillies for " caring of 
sindry puir anes in the 
towne " in 1596. 3 

At the end of the 16th 
century, the number of 
surgeons practising in the 
town probably did not 
exceed six, and there ap- 
pears to have been only one 
physician. There were, 
however, in addition, at 
least two midwives, who 
transacted most of the 
obstetric practice of the 
peter lowe (ca. 1550-1613) burgh. 4 In the year 1598, 

(Original picture in the Hall of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and ^ g-^ appears 

Surgeons of Glasgow) 1 r 

to have taken an active 

interest in medical life, for it sent a deputation to the Town Council 
representing that an enquiry should be made as to those practising 
within the town, who pretended to have skill in medicine and had not 
the same, and that those who had skill should be retained and the 
others rejected. 

Visitors In April, 1599, the Town Council took action by appointing three baillies, 

appointed tnree c j t y m i n i s ters and three university officers, with other men skilled in the 

1 " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow, 1573-1642," Glasgow, 1876, p. 58. 
• Op. cit., p. 138. 

3 Op. cit., p. 178. 

4 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians ami Surgeons of Glasgow, 1599-1850," Maclehose, 

Glasgow, 1896, p. 18. 



art, to examine for the future those who practised medicine in the town. This 
committee had, however, hardly got to work, when the matter was settled from 
another direction. King James VI. granted, in November, 1599, letters under 
the Privy Seal empowering Peter Lowe and Robert Hamilton, " professoure of 
mcdecine and their successouris indwelleris of our Citie of Glasgow," to examine 
and try all who professed or practised the art of surgery, to license those whom they 
adjudged fit, and to exclude the unqualified from practice, with power to fine those 
who proved contumacious. 

These " visitors," as Lowe and Hamilton were called, reported to the city 
magistrates in cases of death by accident, violence or poison, and were empowered 
to exclude from the practice of medicine all who could not produce a testimonial 
of a famous university where medicine was taught. These extensive powers 
of licensing for medical practice extended over the burghs of Glasgow, Renfrew 
and Dumbarton, and the Sheriffdoms of Clydesdale, Renfrew, Lanark, Kyle, 
Carrick, Ayr and Cunningham, thus covering the greater part of the south-west 
of Scotland. This was the beginning of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and 
Surgeons at Glasgow. 

Maister Peter Lowe probably arrived in Glasgow about the beginning of Peter Lowe 
1598, and the fact of his selecting Glasgow for his residence when he returned from 
the Continent raises the presumption that he belonged to the west of Scotland. 
From his use of the descriptive title " Arellian," it is possible that he may have been 
born at Errol or at Ayr. He was undoubtedly a Scot, because he appends the title 
" Scottishman " almost every time he writes his name, and he probably left 
Scotland for the Continent after the middle of the 16th century and about the 
time of the Reformation. He was a friend of Gilbert Primrose, Deacon of the 
Incorporation of Surgeons in Edinburgh, to whom, along with James Harvie, 
Surgeon to the Queen, he dedicates his " Chyrurgerie." 

He speaks of having had occasion to use remedies on service " in France, His military 
Flaunders and else-where, the space of twenty-two yeares : thereafter being experience 
Chirurgian-Major to the Spanish Regiments at Paris, two yeares : next following 
the French King my Master in the warres six yeares, where I tooke commoditie 
to practise all points and operations of Chyrurgerie." 1 As the Spanish regiments 
were assisting to hold Paris in 1588-1590 against Henry IV., this fixes the dates 
of his service on the Continent as lasting from 1566 to 1596. The period included 
such memorable historical events as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and the 
Revolt of the Netherlands. From the side on which Lowe was serving, it appears 
that he was then a Catholic ; and as he was later " ordinary Chyrurgion to the 
French King and Navarre," he must have changed sides about 1590, and probably 
at the same time changed his religion. 

He also described himself as " doctor in the facultie of Chyrurgerie at Paris," 
and was, therefore, apparently a master surgeon of the College de St. Come. 

1 Peter Lowe : " Chyrurgerie," Edn. of 1612 : address to the reader. See also for full account, Finlayson : " Account 
of the Life and Works of Maister Peter Lowe," Glasgow, 1889. 




" Chyrur- 
gerie " 

His return to Britain was probably made in 1596, for in this year his book on 
" The Spanish Sicknes " was published in London. In the following year, 1597, 
his " Chyrurgerie " appeared, being dated from London, although the materials for 
the book had been collected abroad, and he made his appearance in Glasgow 
in the early part of 1598. He was not long in coming into collision with the 
power of the Kirk, for on 8th August, 1598, there is a minute of the Presbytery 
indicating that he had been condemned to stand on the " piller " for three 
Sundays, apparently for some offence against ecclesiastical discipline, and to pay 
a fine. Mr. Peter Lowe had apparently 
treated the punishment with ridicule, 
but whether he ever " made his repent- 
ance as ordanit is a matter of which 
there is now no record. 

A book which must have been 
used to a considerable extent by 
Scottish practitioners, especially those 
in the west of Scotland, was the 
" Chyrurgerie " of Peter Lowe, first 
published in 1597, with later editions 
in 1612, 1634 and 1654. This little 
treatise was the outcome of Lowe's 
experience in France. It is essentially 
practical, and its descriptions of 
operations indicate, by their accuracy 
of detail, his personal knowledge and 
practical experience of the things of 
which he wrote. The earlier part of 
it deals with the theory of surgical 
treatment, and takes the form of a 
dialogue between Peter Lowe and 
his son John, in which the latter is 
questioned and answers, somewhat 
after the manner of a catechism. 
Bound up with the " Chyrurgerie " is Lowe's translation 
Divine Hippocrates." 

Figure of 1 6th Century Amputation 
(From Peter Loire's "Chyrurgerie ") 

)f " The Presages of 

The following extract gives a good example of Lowe's style, and describes 
the method used in the 17th century for an amputation of the leg : — 

Amputation " The usage of this ribben or band is divers. First, it holdeth the member hard 

and fast, so that the instrument or incising knife may cut more surely. Secondly, that 
the feeling of the whole parts may be stupified, and rendred insensible. Thirdly, that 
the fluxe of bloud may be stayed. Fourthly, it holdeth up the skinne and muscles which 
must cover the bone after it be cut, and so it maketh it more easie to heale. The 
bandage then being thus made, wee cut the flesh with a rasor or incising knife, which must 
be somewhat crooked to the forme of a hooke or halfe moone. 



*' The flesh then being so cut to the bone, the said bone must be diligently rubbed and 
scraped with the backe of the sayd knife, which backe must be made purposely for that 
effect, to the end the periost which covereth the bone, may be lesse painfull in cutting 
of the bone. Otherwise it teareth and riveth with the same, so causeth great dolour : 
Also letteth [hinders] the cutting, although the bone have no feeling of it selfe. This 
being done, you must saw the bone with a sharpe sawe: then loose the ligatour, draw downe 
the skin, and cover the bone in all the pares ; and if there be great putrifaction, let it 
bleed a little, for that dischargeth the part, and so is lesse subject to inflamation ; then 
one of the Assisters shall put the extreamities of his fingers on the great vaine & artiers, 
to stay them from bleeding, till the Chyrurgion either knit or cauterize them one after 

The following is Peter Lowe's description of his operation for the relief of 
hernia, especially when it is strangulated, and of the truss which should be worn 
by elderly persons or by persons in whom the hernia is so great as to make 
operation unsuitable : — 

" Of the Heme intestinall, called by the Greekes Interocele. This kinde of rupture Hernia 
is when the guts fall downe in the cods, either through ruption or enlarging of ye Periton 
where the spermaticke vessels doe passe, and where the muscles Cremastres doe end, and 

the membraines Dartos and Evethroidcs begin, wherein the gut Call or both doth fall 

If the fecall matter let [hinder'] the reduction of it, you must use such remedie as is set 
downe in the last Chapter, with glisters to discarge the intestine. If by those remedies 
the intestine do not reduce, but the matter fecall doe waxe hard with great dolour, you 
shall make incision in the upper side of the codde, eschewing the Intestine. Thereafter 
put a little piece of wood up by the production of the Periton, neere unto the hole. Of 
dissent 1 the piece of wood must be round on the one side and flat on the other, whereon 
you shall make the rest of your incision, then rubbe the inticed part & whole of dissent 
with a little oyle of Cammomill, or Lyllies, which will make it lubricke, and cause it to 
reduce more easily. . . . This operation must not be used but in great necessity, and 
the sicke strong prognosticating of the daunger, Ne fefellisse aitt ignorasse vidcceris : 
being reduced, it must with bandages and astringent fomentations be contained, with 
this emplaister upon Leather . . . and keepe the bed for the space of fortic dayes . . . 
using in the meane time good dyet and of light digestion. Abstaine from strong drinkc, 
weake and windie meats, from hoysting [coughing], crying, or other violent motion, so 
farre as the patient may. In the meane time, keepe open the wombe [bowels], and lye 
in such sort, that the head and shoulders be lower than the handles and fundament : 
by these meanes sundry doe heale, when the dilation or ruption is not great. In great 
dilations and people of elder age, I find no remedie, save onely the bandage made of cloth 
with Cotton, Iron or Steele, as shall be most meete : such people as doe ryde great 
Horses and are armed, are much subject to this disease, as I have often seen amonst the 
French, Almaine, or Ryfters Horse-men : who for the most part have their bandages 
of Iron, eyther for one side or for both." 2 

For simple wounds in the flesh, Peter Lowe gives various dressings which 
follow closely upon the practice of Ambroise Pare. It is interesting to note that 
he apparently expected such wounds to heal by first intention, while his use of 
warm claret wine to wash the wound is an example of the early employment 
of alcohol as an antiseptic : — 

1 The two words " of dissent " belong to the previous sentence, but are printed here as in the original. 

2 Peter Lowe : " A Discourse on the Whole art of Chyrurgerie," 3rd edition, 1634, pp. 90 and 91, 247-249. 




Faculty of 
and Surgeons 

The simple wound in the flesh, healeth by joyning the lippes of it together and 
helpe of nature ; yet for the more assurance we use to let it bleed a little, if it hath not 
bled sufficiently already : next we dresse it with a cleane cloth or soft spunge, then we 
close, and put on it the white of an Egge with lynt, bind the wound, and stirre it not in 
two or three dayes ; the white of the egge preserveth it from inflammation, heate, dolour, 
and bleeding. If the wound be great that it jovneth not by the simple ligator, wee use 
a suture, with pouders incarnative or retentives, composed of Sanguis draconis. Thus, 
Masticke, Bolarmenie, wheat flower, all mingled with whites of Egges, and a little oyle of 
Roses, with lynt on it as before. Also a double cloath broader than the wound, wet with 
oyle of Roses and vinegar, binde it, and stirre it not for two or three dayes, if accidents doe 
not chance ; and being remooved, wash it with warme Claret wine, wetting plumations 
in the same wine, which have the vertue to drye and comfort. If the wound be deepe 
and these remedies not sufficient, we make a liquor of oyle of Hvpericon and Turpentine, 
with the yolke of an Egge, or a little of my balme set downe in the Chapter of Gunshot. 
I use, especially following the warres, this digestive made of yolkes of Egges hard roasted, 
and beaten with a little oyle of Hypeiicon, Turpentine and Myrrhe, so this keepes a long 
time, and bringeth the wound to matter, the which not avoyding for the scituation, which 
is to high, we scituate the part in such sort, that the oriface is lowest." 1 

As a result of the report by Peter Lowe to the Privy Council upon the abuses 
of medical practice in Glasgow, he got a privilege under the Privy Seal to "try 
and examine all men upon the Art of 
Chirurgerie, and to discharge, and allow 
in the West parts of Scotland, who 
were worthy or vnworthy, to professe the 
same." In 1601, he accompanied the 
Duke of Lennox, Lord Great Chamberlain 
of Scotland, who was appointed special 
ambassador for the Scottish King at the 
Court of France, upon an embassy to that 
country. For this purpose he obtained 
leave of absence from his duties in 
Glasgow with a continuation of his salary 
for a year. 2 In 1602, he was back again 
in Glasgow, and there are numerous 
other references to him in the minutes 
of the Faculty and those of the 
Town Council. He published a second 
edition of his " Chyrurgerie," dated 
20th December, 1612, and died apparently 
in the next year. 

The great work of Peter Lowe was 
the establishment of the Faculty of 

Physicians and Surgeons, which embraced within its powers the regulation of the 
practice of medicine, surgery and pharmacy in the west of Scotland. The 
charter instituted medico-legal examiners who reported to the authorities, thus 

Figure of 1 6th Century Truss 

(From Peter Lowe's "Chyrurgerie") 

1 Lowe : " Discourse on the Whole Art of Chyrurgerie," Bk. VI., Ch. II., p. 297. 
* " Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Glasgow," p. 223 



forming, in 1599, a very early example of State medicine. It was the duty of the 
Faculty to examine and license surgeons, but physicians were only to be called 
upon to produce the diploma from their university. As none of the Scottish 
universities at this time granted degrees in medicine, this presumably refers to 
graduates of foreign universities, who might be expected to settle in Glasgow. 
The Faculty also at a very early date undertook the gratuitous medical visita- 
tion and treatment of the sick poor. This practice was apparently taken by 
Peter Lowe from one of the regulations of the College de St. Come at Paris. 

The fact that physicians and surgeons were both included in the operation The charter 
of the original charter, and that they have remained united in this body to the 
present day, has had a great deal to do with moulding the character of the 
Glasgow Medical School. Although the university did not establish a medical 
faculty till the beginning of the 19th century, the rapid rise of this school and 
its celebrity as a training -place for efficient general practitioners, has probably 
been largely due to the fact that its surgeons have always possessed a good 
knowledge of medicine, while many of its physicians have been competent 
practitioners of surgery. This charter is of so much importance for the 
influence which it has had on Scottish medicine that it is given here in full :— 

" JAMES, be the Grace of God, King of Scottis, to all Provostis, baillies of burrowis, 
scheriffs, stewartis, baillies of regalities, and otheris ministeris of justice within the boundis 
following, and their deputis, and all and sundrie otheris ouir leigis and subditis, quhom 
it efferis, quhase knawledge thir our letteris sal cume, greiting, WIT ZE WE, with auise 
o oure counsall, understanding the grit abuisis quhilk hes bene comitted in time bigane, 
and zit daylie continuis be ignorant, unskillit and unlernit personis, quha, under the 
collour of Chirurgeanis, abuisis the people to their plesure, passing away but [without] 
tryel or punishment, and thairby destroyis infinite number of oure subjectis, quhairwith 
na ordour hes bene tane in tyme bigane, specially within oure burgh and baronie of 
Glasgow, Renfrew, Dumbartane, and oure Sheriffdomes of Cliddisdale, Renfrew, Lanark, 
Kyile, Carrick, Air and Cunninghame ; FOR avoiding of sik inconvenientis, and for 
gude ordoure to be tane in tyme cuming, to have made, constitutit and ordanit, and be 
the tenoure of thir oure letteris, makis, constitutis, and ordinis Maister Peter Low, our 
Chirurgiane and chief chirurgiane to oure dearest son the Prince, with the assistance of 
Mr. Robert Hamiltone, professoure of medecine, and their successouris, indwelleris of 
our Citie of Glasgow, GEVAND and GRANTAND to thaime and thair successoures, full 
power to call, sumonnd, and convene before thame, within the said burgh of Glasgow, 
or onie otheris of ouir said burrowis, or publict places of the foirsaids boundis, all personis 
professing or using the said airt of Chirurgie, to examine thame upon thair literature, 
knawledge and practize ; gif they be fund wordie, to admit, allow, and approve thame, 
give them testimonial according to the airt and knawledge that they sal be fund wordie 
to exercise thareftir, resave thair aithis, and authorize thame as accordis, and to discharge 
thame to use onie farder nor they have knawledge passing thair capacity, laist our sub- 
jectis be abusit ; and that every ane citat report testimonial of the minister and eldris, 
or magistratis of the parochin quhair they dwell, of thair life and conversatione ; and in 
case they be contumax, being lauchfullie citat, everie ane to be unlawit in the soume of 
fortie pundis, toties quoties, half to the judges, other half to be disponit at the visitoures 
plesure ; and for payment thairof the said Mr. Peter and Mr. Robert, or visitoures, to 
have oure uthere letteris of horning [outlawry], on the partie or magistriates quhair 
the contemptuous personis duellis, chargeing thame to poind thairfoire, within twentie 
four houris, under the pain of horning ; and the partie not haveand geir poindable, the 

Abuses to be 


Visitors to 
examine and 



magistrate, under the same pain, to incarcerate thame, quhill cautioun responsall be 
fund, that the contumax persone sail compir at sik day and place as the saidis visitouris 
sail appoint, gevan trial of thair qualifications : 

" Nixt, that the saidis visitouris sail visit everie hurt, murtherit, poisonit, or onie other To make 
persoun tane awa extraordinarly, and to report to the Magistrate of the fact as it is : reports 

" Thirdlie, That it sail be leisum to the said visitouris with the advice of their brethren, 
to mak statutis for the comoun weill of our subjectis, anent the saidis artis, and using 
thairof faithfullie, and the braikeris thairof to be punshit and unlawit be the visitoures 
according to their fait : 

" Fordlie, It sail not be leisum to onie mannir of personis within the foresaidis boundis University 
to exercise medicine without ane testimonial of ane famous universitie quhair medecine graduates to 
be taught, or at the leave of oure and oure dearest spouse chief medicinarie ; and in practise 
case they tailzie, it sal be lesum to the said visitouris to challenge, perseu, and inhibite thame meclicine 
throu using and exercing of the said airt of medecine, under the pain of fourtie poundis, 
to be distributed, half to the Judges, half to the pure, toties quoties they be fund in useing 
and exercing the same, ay and quhill they bring sufficient testimonial as said is : 

" Fythlie, That na manir of personis sell onie droggis within the Citie of Glasgow Drugs to be 
except the sam be sichtit be the saidis visitouris, and be William Spang, apothecar, under inspected 
the pane of confiscatioune of the droggis : 

" Sextlie, That nane sell retoun poison, asenick, or sublemate, under the pane of ane Poisons 
hundred merkis, excep onlie the apothecaries quha sail be bund to tak cautioun of the 
byaris, for coist, skaith and damage : 

" Seventlie, Yat the saidis visitouris with thair bretherene and successouris, sail convene Meetings and 
every first Mononday of ilk moneth, at sum convenient place, to visite and give counsell exemptions 
to pure disaisit folkis gratis : and last of all, Gevand and grantand to the saidis visitouris 
indwellers of Glasgow, professouris of the saidis airtis, and thair bretherene, p'nt and to 
cum, imunite and exemptioune from all wappin shawengis, raidis, oistis, beiring of armour, 
watching, weirding, stenting taxationis, passing on assises, inquestis, justice courtis, 
scheriff or burrow courtis, in actiounes criminal or cival, notwithstanding of oure actis 
lawis, and constitutionis thairoff, except in geving yairr counsall in materis appertaining 
to the saidis airtis : ORDAINING you, all the foresaidis provestes baillies of borrowis, 
sheriffis, stewartis, baillies of regalities, and otheris ministeris of justice, within the saidis 
boundis, and zoure deputis, to assist, fortifie, concur and defend the saidis visitouris, and 
their posterior, professouris of the foresaidis airtis, and put the saidis actis maid and to be 
maid to executioun ; and that our otheris letteris of our sessioun be granted thereupon 
to charge thame to that effect within twentie four houris nixt after they be chargit thairto. 
GEVIN under oure previe seill, at Haliruid house, the penult day of November, the zeir 
of God jmve. and fourscore ninetein zeiris, and of oure regun the threttie thre zeir." 1 

An early act of the incorporation was to adopt the barbers in June, 1602, Barbers 
as " a pendecle of Chirurgerie." The barbers were apparently adopted as a 
necessity of the times, but on a distinctly inferior plane. The barber was to be 
" free of his ain calling " but not of the incorporation as a whole, and the barber 
was to " medill with simple wounds allenarlie." This position continued for about 
a century till, in 1703, the barbers appealed their grievances to the Town Council, 
and applied to be disjoined from the chirurgeons. In 1708, the magistrates 
effected this separation, the barbers taking one-fifth of the property of the 
incorporation, and being re-incorporated by themselves under a Letter of 

1 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow," pp. 217 and 218. 



Rules for 






Deaconry. It may be added that in Edinburgh the union between the surgeons 
and barbers came to an end in 1719. 

Another early activity of the Faculty was the enactment of a code of rules 
in regard to the education of the members. In 1602, it was ordained that 
apprentices must be entered for seven years, although in the last two they were 
to receive board and fee. The apprentice was to pay five pounds for entry money, 
was to be examined at the end of three years, giving a dinner at the time to his 
examiners, and again to be examined at the end of five years and at the end of 
seven years. The examinations were apparently to be partly written and partly 
practical, and at the end of his term of apprenticeship, before passing as master, 
he was to pay ten pounds. Finally, if he intended to practise in Glasgow, he had 
to be enrolled as a burgess of the town at a further fee, and he had to pay to the 
Faculty a quarterly subscription, which was rigorously exacted. 

Individuals seem to have been licensed in the early days to practise limited 
parts of the art of medicine. Thus, in 1668, Matthew Miller was licensed for the 
" applicatione of coulters & ventosis [cupping], the cuiring of simple woundes, and 
embalming of corpes," with the proviso that if he should be found afterwards 
to attain more knowledge and skill of his calling, and found qualified by the 
Faculty, he should be admitted thereto. Again, from the city records of 
21st March, 1661, it was decided by the magistrates and Council to pay yearly 
to Evir M'Neill " that cutis the stone, ane hundreth markis Scotis, and he to cut 
all the poor for that freilie." This salary was apparently paid to him for many 
years, as he retired in 1688 in favour of Duncan Campbell. Evir M'Neill had 
been licensed by the Faculty in 1656, on the strength of ten years or thereby of 
experience " in cutting of the stone," to practise this department only within 
the bounds of the Faculty's supervision. Again, in 1654, Mr. Arch. Graham 
was licensed to practise " pharmacie and medicine," but was forbidden to 
exercise any point of " Chirurgerie." 

In 1645, one of the provisions of the original charter was carried out by the 
admission to the Faculty, without examination, of Mr. Robert Mayne, the first 
professor of medicine in the University of Glasgow, and Mr. James Dwining, who 
were both doctors of medicine. Dr. Mayne's activities as a professor in the 
university were short-lived. He was one of the regents in the Faculty of Arts, 
and became professor of medicine in 1637. 1 

In 1656, the Faculty made a closer rapprochement with the Town Council 
by obtaining in favour of the chirurgeons and barbers a Letter of Deaconry or 
Seal of Cause. In 1672, the Faculty obtained from the Scottish Parliament a 
ratification of this municipal charter, drawn in favour of the surgeons, 
apothecaries and barbers. 

During the 18th century there was a regular pension list for decayed members 
and widows, and in 1792 a widows' fund was inaugurated with an increased fee 
for entry to the Faculty. This gradually became so intolerable that in 1850 an 

1 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow," p. m. 



Act of Parliament was obtained mainly for the purpose of rendering subscription 
to this widows' fund optional upon new entrants, and at the same time the title 
of Members of the Faculty was changed to that of Fellows. At this time Fellows 
and members of other colleges were permitted to practise within the jurisdiction 
of the Faculty. Under the presidentship of John Glaister, the Faculty 
applied to be allowed to use the word " Royal " in its title, and in 1909 this 
privilege was granted by King Edward VII., so that thereafter the Faculty 
became known as the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. 

Until the latter part of the 17th century the Faculty does not appear to have 
felt itself strong enough to extend its operations beyond the town of 
Glasgow, although it had been given a purview over medical practice in a much 
wider area. In 1673, however, examiners were appointed in Ayr and Kilmarnock 
to examine applicants for entrance to the Faculty. 

These were the times of the Covenanting troubles, and some of the Faculty Covenan- 
were enthusiastic Covenanters, though most of them tempered piety with prudence. ters 
In 1677, the Faculty had the misfortune to have a Treasurer, Mr. Thomas Smith, 
who attended conventicles, and who had been denounced and called before the 
Lords of Secret Council. Having some fear that the Corporation might be fined 
for his misdemeanours, his fellow-members summarily ejected him from office 
and appointed a successor ad interim. 

On the other hand, the Faculty had much trouble with the impious barbers, 
who acted as " prophaners of the Sabath by barborizing of persons yt day." This 
practice was found by the Faculty, in 1676, to be " contrair to the word of God, 
and to all lawes both humane and divyne." A resolution was therefore passed 
that any member of the Faculty convicted of plying his craft of barber on the 
Sabbath day should be fined 40 pounds Scots, and, upon refusal to pay the same, 
be ejected from the Faculty. 1 

About this time the Faculty seems to have been extraordinarily busy in the 
prosecution of quacks and other unlicensed practitioners within its area, and 
the records are filled with cases of unqualified persons brought up before the 
Faculty in its judicial capacity. These were either fined or forbidden under 
penalty to practise further. 

In 1697, the Faculty acquired a property contiguous to the Tron Church, The hall 
where the members set up a hall and commenced the formation of a medical 
library, for up to this time they had been without a meeting-place, holding 
their meetings usually either in the Crafts' Hospital or Hutchesons' Hospital. 
In 1791, the Faculty moved its hall to the east side of St. Enoch Square, 
and, in i860, sold this site to the Railway Company with advantage and moved 
to its present premises in St. Vincent Street. 

In the 18th century it appears that the term of apprenticeship for surgeons Apprentice- 
was five years, although apprenticeships of four years and three years were also g^ tened 
recognised when this apprenticeship was supplemented by attendance on lectures 

1 Dunran : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow," p. 72. 



at a medical school. In 1785, the Faculty established a licentiateship, which 

gave to country surgeons the power of practising in a limited area on payment 

of a reduced admission fee. 
Matthew Several men eminent in medicine were members of the Faculty during 

Brisbane ^ jgth century Dr Matthew Brisbane, in the end of the 17th century, had 

been several times elected rector of the university, the only medical man in that 

Tobias Smollett (17 21-17 7 1) 

century to attain the distinction. In common, however, with the general opinion 
Witchcraft 0 f the times, he apparently had some sympathy with the idea that witchcraft 
was a possible practice, for in 1696 he made a lengthy report upon a girl, 
Christian Shaw, daughter of the Laird of Bargarran, whom he had seen to bring 
hair, straw, coal, cinders and such-like " trash " out of her mouth without its being 
wet. The case at the present day would unhesitatingly be attributed to 



hysteria and imposture, but, for the alleged crime of bewitching this wretched 
girl, four persons were burned at Paisley. 1 

As a pioneer in surgery, much credit is due to Mr. Robert Houston, for whom Robert 
a claim is made of being the first ovariotomist, by reason of an operation which Houston 
he performed in 1701, more than a century before the celebrated operations of 
Dr. Ephraim McDowell, of Kentucky. 2 The case concerned a woman, 
Margaret Millar, whom, in August, 1701, he found to have the abdomen distended 
to an enormous size. Being pressed by Lady Anne Houston, who took a great Ovariotomy 
interest in the patient, and by the patient herself, to do what he could to relieve 
the condition, he, with very ineffective instruments, opened the abdomen, removed 
some nine quarts of gelatinous fluid and numerous cysts, and, after dressing the 
wound for three weeks, had the satisfaction of seeing the patient again at work, 
and later of recording her survival for 13 years in perfect health. 

A well-known member of the Faculty, about the middle of the century, was John Gordon 
Dr. John Gordon, to whom Tobias Smollett served an apprenticeship. The latter Tobias 
puts into the mouth of one of his characters, Mr. Bramble, the following appreciation Smollett 
of his old master, who, outside of medicine, conferred upon the city the great benefit 
of introducing linen manufacture there : "I was introduced to Mr. Gordon, a 
patriot of a truly noble spirit, who is father of the linen manufactory of that 
place, and was the great promoter of the city workhouse, infirmary and other 
works of public utility. Had he lived in ancient Rome, he would have been 
honoured with a statue at the public expense." 

Another friend of Dr. Gordon was Dr. William Smellie, the obstetrician, also William 
a member of the Faculty, who practised in the town of Lanark, and afterwards Smellle 
went to London, where he composed his celebrated " Midwifery," which was 
revised by Tobias Smollett. Dr. John Gordon lectured for a time in the College 
on anatomy, and other lecturers on this subject at various periods between 1730 
and 1750, were Mr. John Paisley, Mr. John Love, Dr. Robert Hamilton and 
Mr. John Crawford. Other celebrated members of the Faculty were William 
Cullen and Joseph Black, whose lives and work are mentioned in connection with 
the Medical School of Edinburgh. 

The hostility that existed about this time between surgeon-apothecaries of 
the old type who had gained a knowledge of their calling through apprenticeship 
only, and the younger men who were now beginning to attend classes and to read 
books, is brought out by Tobias Smollett in the interview where Roderick Random 
seeks employment as assistant to Mr. Crab. To Random's statement : — 

" ' Neither am I altogether ignorant of surgery, which I have studied 
with great pleasure and application.' ' O ho ! you did,' says Crab. ' Gentle- 
men, here is a complete artist ! Studied surgery ! What ? in books, I 
suppose. I shall have you disputing with me one of these days on points 
of my profession. You can already account for muscular motion, I warrant, 

1 Duncan : " Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow," pp. nz and 113. 
* " Philosophical Transactions," London, i7ii- Vol. XXXIII., p. 8. 



and explain the mystery of the brain and nerves — ha ! — You are too learned 
for me, d — n me. But let's hear no more of this stuff. Can you bleed and 
give a clyster, spread a plaister, and prepare a potion ? 

Beginning of Until the early part of the 18th century, Glasgow medicine had busied itself 
teaching mainly with the improvement of medical and surgical practice, and the few 
attempts at teaching which have been mentioned had proved abortive. The 
teaching of medicine was of later introduction, as described below. 

In the scheme of educational organisation proposed by Knox and the other 
reformers in 1560, the faculties of arts, medicine, law and theology were to be 
taught at St. Andrews, but at Aberdeen and Glasgow only arts, law and theology 
were proposed. This " Book of Discipline " was never adopted in its entirety. 

Chair of The teaching of medicine at St. Andrews lapsed, and as regarded Glasgow, 

instituted on 2 5th October, 1637, a meeting of the regents appointed Mr. Robert Mayne, 
and lapses one of the regents, to be professor of medicine in the college for the future, with 
a stipend of 400 merks. He had been one of the regents in the Faculty of Arts, 
and he apparently lectured on medicine on Fridays and other convenient occasions, 
although he had no other colleagues in the Medical Faculty. A visitation from 
the General Assembly in 1642, however, decided that the profession of medicine 
was " not necessar for the Colledge in all tyme comming," but allowed Mayne, 
the existing professor, to hold the chair during his life. He died in 1646, and the 
chair lapsed. The lessening of funds from which the university suffered 
after the Restoration, prevented any attempt to reconstitute the chair, although 
the Commissioners of Visitation, meeting at Glasgow in 1664, recommended 
that a number of professors should be added to the teaching staff, including 
one of medicine. 

Physic The number of students and the amount of funds available increased con- 

siderably after William of Orange came to the throne, and, in 1704, the first real 
beginning of the medical school was made with the setting aside of a portion of 
the college garden for botanical purposes, and the appointment of John Marshall, 
surgeon in Glasgow, to be keeper of this physic garden and to instruct the students 
in botany. The university almost at once began to examine candidates for the 
degree of M.D., although the university was not itself teaching them. A chair 
of medicine was again founded in 1713, and a chair of anatomy was established 
in 1720, although the teaching of this subject was for a considerable time combined 
with that of botany. A sum of £40 a year was assigned by Queen Anne from the 
unexpended part of a grant to the university, made by King William, as salary 
for the professor of medicine. 

Chair of A regulation was made to the effect that the professor of medicine, in common 

botany and w Hh several other professors, was required to teach his subject whenever five students 
anatomy r > 1 j 

applied to him, and it was stipulated that he should " give not under four lessons 

every week." The professor of botany and anatomy was similarly required to 

teach botany from 15th May to 1st July every year if five students offered, 

and anatomy as soon as ten students offered. If ten students did not offer hy 



ist November in any year, he was in any case to give a weekly prelection on 
anatomy at the university till 15th May. 

The first professor of medicine, appointed in 17 14 under this new arrangement, Chair of 
was Dr. John Johnstoun, who had graduated M.D. at Utrecht five years previously, medicine 
and the first professor of anatomy and botany was Dr. Thomas Brisbane, son of revived 
Dr. Matthew Brisb ane. It is doubtful, however, if Johnstoun was ever called upon 
to give his course of lectures, so that both he and Brisbane should probably be 
regarded as merely titular professors. 1 

The beginnings of the medical school in Glasgow University were thus closely 
parallel to those in Edinburgh, though they followed some thirty years after the 
developments in the capital city. In both cities the organisation of medicine 
began under the medical corporations, and its teaching was assumed only at 
a comparatively late date by the universities. 

In 1732, the fee for the degree of M.D. was £11 is. 6d., of which £8 was given 
to the professor of medicine. 2 

In 1744, Dr. William Cullen, who had moved from Hamilton into Glasgow, William 
began to deliver a course of lectures on medicine outside the university, and in Cullen 

begins to 

1746, by an arrangement with Professor Johnstoun, he began to lecture in the lecture 
university. He persuaded the university also to fit up a chemical laboratory 
in 1747, and began to teach chemistry with the help of Mr. John Carrick, assistant 
to Dr. Hamilton, now professor of anatomy. In 1748, Cullen also began to teach 
materia medica and botany. In 1750, Dr. Johnstoun resigned the chair of medicine, 
and Cullen was appointed his successor in January, 1751. 

Cullen was one of the first persons in Britain to treat chemistry as Chemistry 
a scientific subject apart from its connection with pharmacy. He also 
stimulated his pupil, Joseph Black, to take up the subject from the same 
aspect. Black went to Edinburgh as a student in 1751, and here he accomplished 
the brilliant feat of isolating " fixed air " (carbonic acid gas), which inaugurated 
a new era in chemistry. In 1755, Cullen left Glasgow to take up the chair of 
chemistry at Edinburgh ; next year Dr. Robert Hamilton, the professor of anatomy, 
was transferred to the chair of medicine, and Dr. Joseph Black, who had now 
graduated at Edinburgh, succeeded Hamilton as professor of anatomy for one 
year. Dr. Hamilton having died in 1757, Dr. Joseph Black succeeded to the 
chair of medicine and chemistry, but, in 1766, he again resigned this to succeed 
Cullen in the chair of chemistry at Edinburgh, when the latter was transferred 
to the chair of medicine in that university. For the lives of Cullen and Black, 
see Chapter XIV. 

To Cullen and Black the foundation of the Glasgow School of Medicine 
may reasonably be credited. Black was succeeded in 1766 in the chair of 
medicine and chemistry by Dr. Alexander Stevenson. After Black left Glasgow, 

1 Thomson : " Life of Cullen," Edinburgh, 1859, Vol. I., p. 24. 

2 Coutts : " History of the University of Glasgow," p. 232. 



Dr. John Robison was appointed a lecturer in chemistry, and Dr. William 
Irvine a lecturer in materia medica. It was unfortunate for the developing school 
at Glasgow that several of these men of ability were transferred to other spheres 
of activity almost as soon as they had made their mark. 1 

The subject of chemistry at Glasgow in the 18th century was one of considerable 
importance, because of the eminence to which several of its teachers attained. 
A lectureship on chemistry was instituted in 1746, largely owing to the exertions 
of Dr. Cullen, who was appointed the first lecturer on this subject (1747) and later 
held the post along with the chair of medicine. The early professors were thus 
called professors of medicine and chemistry, just as at Edinburgh there were, in 
the early days, professors of chemistry and medicine and professors of medicine 
and botany. Cullen was an enthusiastic chemist with great dexterity in experi- 
menting, and with the sanction of the university he set up a chemical laboratory, 
where he conducted experiments. The Free Library at Paisley possesses two 
small volumes of MS. notes of Dr. Cullen's lectures on chemistry, which indicate 
the scope of his teaching. 

When Joseph Black, in 1756, succeeded Cullen as lecturer in chemistry, he Joseph 
entered with great earnestness upon the investigations and experiments which resulted Black 
in the discovery of latent heat, and he read an account of his discovery before the 
Literary Society of Glasgow College in 1762. On Black's representation, the 
university, in 1763, provided a new laboratory and lecture room in the neighbour- 
hood of the physic garden. Over £500 was spent upon the laboratory, which was 
a large sum for those days. 

When Black went to Edinburgh in 1766, he was succeeded as lecturer on John 
chemistry bv Dr. John Robison (1739,-1805), who had been one of his students. 0 lb °' 
Robison was better known later as professor of natural philosophy in the University 
of Edinburgh, but in Glasgow he is noted for having, in 1708, involved himself 
in a fight in the quadrangle with David Woodburn, a senior student. The result 
was that Robison was fined and Woodburn expelled from the university, although 
this did not affect the latter greatly, for he subsequently had an adventurous and 
distinguished career as a colonel of artillery in the service of the East India Company. 
Robison was succeeded, in 1769, as lecturer on chemistry by William Irvine, M.D., 
another pupil of Black, who previously had been lecturer on materia medica. 

On his death, in 1787, Irvine was succeeded in the lectureships, both oh chemistry 
and on materia medica, by Thomas Charles Hope, M.D., and on Hope's resignation 
to take up the chair of medicine in 1791, the vacancy in chemistry was filled by 
the appointment of Dr. Robert Cleghorn (1755-1821), a physician in large practice Robert 
who had already been lecturer on materia medica since 1788. As he had no Cleghor 
leisure nor turn for investigation, there was no practical class, and the Laboratory 
was abandoned. He appears, however, to have been a clear and popular lecturer 
on the subject of chemistry. He was an Edinburgh graduate, who had started 
practice in Glasgow, and he was one of the first two physicians to the Royal 

1 Duncan : 

' Memorials of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow," pp. 129-132. 



Infirmary of Glasgow. He continued to lecture on chemistry till a professorship 
was instituted in 1818. 

He was also the first physician to the Glasgow Royal Mental Hospital for 
a period of five years from 1814 to 1819. He practised first at Spreull's Land, 
off the Trongate, and had a country retreat at Rutherglen, where he built Shawfield 
House and laid out a large herb garden. Here he died in 1821. 

It is told that a crowd gathered one night round his house in College Street, 
and angry mutterings of vengeance were heard by those within. When the cook 
went to the door to enquire as to the cause of the disturbance, she was straightway 
accused of being in the act of " roasting a bairn for the doctor's supper." Some 
of the mob had to be taken inside before they could be convinced that it was only 
a sucking pig that was revolving on the spit before the fire. 

Alexander j n the chair of medicine, now separated from chemistry, Dr. Alexander 

evenson Stevenson was appointed in 1766 to succeed Black. Stevenson was the son of 
a well-known physician of Edinburgh, and graduated M.D. at Glasgow in 1749. 
Settling in Glasgow in 1756, he amassed a considerable practice, and threw 
himself with earnestness into the movement which resulted in the erection of 
the Royal Infirmary. He did not, however, live to see the hospital built, and 
falling into delicate health, he handed over the duties of the chair to his nephew, 
Dr. Thomas Charles Hope, and died in 1791. 

In 1789, Thomas Charles Hope, son of John Hope, the professor of medicine 
and botany at Edinburgh, and a nephew of Professor Stevenson, became assistant 
to the latter in the professorship of medicine and succeeded him in 1791. 1 While 
Hope was in Glasgow, he published his important research dealing with the 
maximum density of water, but in 1795 he was transferred to Edinburgh to succeed 
Joseph Black in the chair of chemistry. He is thus regarded as an Edinburgh 
professor (see Chapter XIX). In the Glasgow chair of medicine he was succeeded, 
at the beginning of 1796, by Dr. Robert Freer, an Edinburgh physician. 

The number of students both in arts and medicine was increasing towards the 
end of the 18th century, thus necessitating provision for the teaching of new 
subjects. A lecturer on materia medica was accordingly appointed in 1766, and 
a lecturer on midwifery in 1790. The opening of the Royal Infirmary in 1794 
also gave opportunity for instruction in clinical medicine and clinical surgery by 
members of its staff. 

Midwifery The commencement of teaching in midwifery was somewhat involved. 

Thomas Hamilton, a brother of Robert Hamilton, at first professor of anatomy, 
and now of medicine, was appointed, in 1757, to succeed Black in the chair 
of anatomy and botany. Thomas Hamilton had been in partnership with 
John Moore, surgeon, in Glasgow, and he later made application to the Faculty 
of Physicians and Surgeons for apparatus for teaching midwifery. A sum of £80 
was granted for this purpose in 1768, and Hamilton engaged to give a regular course 

1 Cuutts : " History of the University of Glasgow," p. 496. 



of midwifery every session. James Muir, a surgeon in Glasgow, had already, in 
1759, announced a course of lectures for the instruction of women in midwifery. 
Thomas Hamilton was followed by his son, William Hamilton, in the chair of 
anatomy and botany, but it is not certain whether the latter prosecuted the subject 
of midwifery. 

After William Hamilton's death in 1790, James Towers, surgeon, who had 
been his partner, represented that he had made a special study of midwifery in 
the Royal Infirmary at Edinburgh and in London, and asked to be allowed to 
lecture upon this subject in the University of Glasgow. Towers was appointed 
lecturer on midwifery from year to year till 1815, when be became professor of 
this subject. In 1792, he announced that he had opened a lying-in ward for the 
more effective instruction of students of midwifery, and, applying for some remunera- 
tion, the university granted him an allowance of £25 a year. In 1794, his salary 
was raised to £45. 1 

The first lecturer on materia medica was William Irvine, M.D. (1743-1787). Materia 
He was an excellent chemist and had assisted Black in his experiments relating medica 
to latent heat, for which he expected to be made Black's successor, but was passed 
over in favour of Dr. John Robison. His friends being anxious to secure his 
services to the university in some capacity, a lectureship on materia medica was 
instituted, and he was appointed to this post in 1766. He was greatly interested 
in chemistry, working on much the same lines as Black had done, and, in 1769, when 
Robison took up an appointment in Russia, Irvine was appointed to succeed 
him as lecturer on chemistry. He continued to deliver two courses — one on 
chemistry and chemical pharmacy and the other on dietetics, materia medica 
and pharmacy. 2 He also lectured on botany, to relieve Professor Thomas 
Hamilton who, though holding the chair of anatomy and botany, was unable to 
teach the latter subject. 

When Irvine died he was succeeded as lecturer, both on chemistry and 
on materia medica, by Thomas Charles Hope, but as he later confined himself 
to chemistry, materia medica was taught from 1788 by Dr. Robert Cleghorn, 
a physician in large practice. He in turn, devoting himself to chemistry, was 
succeeded in 1791 as lecturer on materia medica, by Dr. Richard Millar (d. — 1833). 
Millar continued as lecturer for a long period of 40 years until 1831, when the 
Crown founded a chair of materia medica and made him professor of the subject. 
The number of students attending the materia medica class in Millar's later 
years was between 80 and 90. Two years later, however, advancing years 
compelled Millar to place his resignation in the hands of the Home Secretary, 
who filled up the post by appointing Dr. John Couper to the professorship. Millar 
had had a salary of £70 from the university, together with fees paid by students, 
but it appears that when the Crown established the professorship, no emolument 
was attached to the post. 

1 Coutts : " History of the University of Glasgow," p. 498, et seq. 

2 Murray : " Memories of the Old College of Glasgow," Glasgow, 1927, p. 188. 



faculty at 
end of 


When Couper died, in 1855, he was succeeded by Dr. John Alexander Easton 
(1807-1865), who had taught materia medica in Anderson's College for 15 years 
before being made professor of the same subject in the university. 

The medical school of Glasgow University at the end of the 18th century was 
constituted as follows. There was a professor of medicine (Robert Freer), who 
taught both the practice and theory of medicine, including physiology and pathology. 
The professor of anatomy (James Jeffray), taught surgery in addition to anatomy, 
and was nominally professor of botany. Chemistry, materia medica, midwifery 
and botany were taught by lecturers, the incumbents being respectively Robert 
Cleghorn, Richard Millar, James Towers and Thomas Brown. 

About 200 students attended a certain number of these classes, but few 
of these students graduated, most of them taking two or three classes as a 
supplement to the training which they received from the practitioners to whom 
they were attached as apprentices. The infirmary had been opened in 
1794, and was available for classes in clinical medicine and clinical surgery 
by the end of the century. The first student who attended a clinical course 
there appears to have been Robert Agnew, who graduated M.D. in May, 1796. 
Notwithstanding these somewhat meagre arrangements for teaching, many 
celebrated medical men had, even in the earlier years of the century, been 
alumni of this university, including such men as Cullen and Black, Hamilton 
and Gordon, William Hunter and Smellie. 


Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons 

Chapter XVI 

The Early Medical School at Aberdeen and 
k i ng's College 

Although the University of Edinburgh was later in its inception than any 
of the other three, medicine developed earlier at Edinburgh and was more 
particularly cultivated than in any of the other towns. The University of 
St. Andrews was founded in the beginning of the 15th century, Glasgow was 
founded in the middle, and Aberdeen at its close, while Edinburgh University 
was not founded until a century later, in 1582. As we have seen, however, 
the Guild of Surgeons and Barbers at Edinburgh was a well-established teaching 
body by 1505. 

The craft of the " Barbours " is mentioned casually several times in The barbers 
the early minutes of the Aberdeen Council. Aberdeen received from of Aberdeen 
William the Lion, in the 12th century, a charter authorising the burgesses 
to trade, and several important monasteries 
were founded within its bounds, to one of 
which, the Trinity Friars, King William gave 
up his own palace in the Green. The gradual 
acquisition of medical knowledge by the 
barbers and their formation into a semi- 
religious craft would, therefore, be easy. 
A Council minute of 10th October, 1494, 
refers to payment of twenty shillings for the 
" barbouris obeytis," 1 and on 30th January, 
1505, the craft is mentioned as taking part 
in a pageant. 2 

The place of the barbers among the 
other crafts was a humble one, as appears 
from their position in the great procession 
of Corpus Christi day in 1531, when the 

barbers walked next to the fleshers, who came lowest in precedence, the 
hammermen taking the chief position among the 17 crafts mentioned. In the 
pageant the barbers represented " Saint Lowrance and his Tormentouris." 3 
The Guild of Barbers was incorporated by the Town Council in 1537. 4 
Military surgerv must have been an important part of the craft, for Aberdeen 

Seal of King's College 

1 " Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen, 1398-15 70," Aberdeen, 1844, p. 55. 

a Op. cit., p. 432. 

3 Op. cit., p. 451. 

1 Parker : " Early History of Surgery in Great Britain," London, 1920, p. 93. 


was an active centre, both during the War of Independence against the 
English and during the raids by caterans from the north-west, which culminated 
in the repulse of the Highland hosts at Harlaw in 141 1. 

There had been a Rector of the Schools at Aberdeen as early as 1262, and Foundatioi 

numerous subsequent references to the Grammar School of Aberdeen are found, of King's 

In 1494, Bishop Elphinstone of Aberdeen obtained permission for the establishment University 
of a " studium generale," or university, in his episcopal See. The pope thus 
bestowed the usual privileges of a university, which were to teach, study and 
confer degrees in theology, canon and civil law, medicine and arts. 

Bishop Elphinstone collected a collegiate body and obtained its endowment by 
his own means and influence, while the young King James IV. made a small donation 
and consented to the annexation of the hospital of St. Germains to assist the 
revenues. The bishop's first efforts were to restore the Cathedral and to collect 
an establishment of 42 clerics and scholars. The erection of the College 
of St. Mary of the Nativity, later named King's College, after King James IV., 
followed in 1500. 1 The first Principal was Hector Boece, a native of 
Forfarshire, who had been a teacher of philosophy in the College Montaigu at 
Paris. King's College appears to have been completed in the year 1505. 

With regard to the size of the university, some information is got from a 
letter written by Randolph, the English Ambassador, who, in 1562, accompanied 
Oueen Mary on a northern progress. He wrote to Cecil from Aberdeen: "The 
Ouene in her progresse is now come as far as Olde Aberdine, the Bishop's seat, 
and whear also the universitie is, or at the least one colledge with fifteen or sixteen 
scollers." 2 

From the beginning, one of the teachers at King's College was a " Mediciner." The 
Thus it was secured that medicine should form an intrinsic part in the teaching mediciner 
of the university, and this was the first university recognition of the subject 
in Great Britain. Cambridge followed in 1540, Oxford in 1546, and Glasgow in 
1637, but Edinburgh did not follow this example until 1685, when three professors 
of medicine were appointed in the Town's College. 

The creation of a chair in medicine must not be misinterpreted, and the 
whole relations subsisting between a university and medicine in the 16th 
and 17th centuries will be better understood if the duties of the mediciner 
are grasped. The study of medicine was, as has been mentioned in 
connection with the monasteries, regarded as an important branch of 
scholarship. At this time it was usual for well-educated men to include 
a knowledge of physic among their literary and philosophical studies, even when 
there was no intention of adopting medicine as a profession. In outlying districts 
of the country where the common people were poor and where roads were bad 
or non-existent, it was difficult for one who practised medicine as his only 
means of sustenance to exist at all, or, in any case, to visit his patients. 

1 " Fasti Aberdonenses, 1494-1854," Spalding Club Pub., Aberdeen, 1854, preface. 

2 Letter to Cecil, 31st August, 1562, quoted in Chalmers' " Life of Ruddiman," p. 7 (note). 


3 68 


Nature of 
a degree in 

The persons, therefore, who rendered help in time of sickness in country 
districts, both before and after the Reformation, were the local clergymen or land- 
owners, who had attended the course at a university and knew something about 
the medical writings. The students who attended the three or four years 
required to complete the " studium generale," like the ancient philosophers, took 
all knowledge for their province. At Edinburgh, as appears from a report by 
the Commissioners of 1648 to the General Assembly, the anatomy of the human 
body was described in the third year's course of arts, while at St. Andrews, in the 
last year, the students learned some compend of anatomy, and at Aberdeen 
some instruction in 
anatomy and physic was 
given, apparently at the 
discretion of the mediciner. 

Among the early 
mediciners Robert Gray 
and Gilbert Skeen were 
also regents in the faculty 
of arts, while they all 
conducted practice among 
the citizens of Aberdeen. 
The successive mediciners 
varied in the extent of 
medicine which they 
taught to their students, 
some of them regarding 
the post as purely 

This attitude on the 
part of the universities 
towards the teaching of 
medicine was reflected in 
the matter of degrees, 
when these came to be 
conferred. The aim was 
to produce not a practi- 
tioner but a scholar, not 

craftsmanship but erudition. Instruction in medicine, while it might be slight, 
was associated with a course in arts and philosophy. The person who received 
a degree was doctits in medicina — learned in medicine — but not necessarily a 
skilled practitioner of the craft. At the university, the same professor often 
taught medicine with oriental languages or with mathematics. In the early 
days, Greek, Latin and Arabic were the languages in which medical knowledge 
was stored, and from the 17th century onwards the systems of medicine which men 
strove to establish had a distinct physical or mathematical trend. 

Diploma of m . D . Degree 
Conferred on Dr. Archibald Pilcairne by King's College, Aberdeen, signed 
by Patrick Urquhart, M.D.. and dated 7th August, 1699 

(Preserved in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) 



at Aberdeen 

When a degree in medicine was conferred, it was given not because Early 
of examinations which the student had successfully passed, but as a graduates 
recognition by the university of general and professional attainments, how- 
ever acquired. It did not convey the idea of a licence to practise, and it was 
frequently conferred as an honorary distinction. Thus, the first name mentioned 
as having received the degree 
of M.D. from King's College is 
that of Dr. Parkin, who was 
graduated by William Gordon, 
the mediciner at King's 
College, in 1630. The same 
mediciner afterwards gradua- 
ted, in 1637, William Broad, 
who wrote a thesis Bonum 
Factum de Hydrope, this being 
the earliest extant Scottish 
medical graduation thesis, of 
which a copy is preserved in 
Glasgow University. 1 Another 
early graduate was Dr. Joannes 
Glover, Londonensis, who 
graduated on 15th May, 1654, 
and who was already a B.A. 
of Harvard (1650). 2 

Examples of the manner 
in which the M.D. degree 
was given for purely honorary 
reasons and in absentia are 
afforded by two minutes of 
the Principall and Maisters. 
"31st May, 1712: — Mr. Patrick 
Blair, apothecary in Cupar, 
who had been recommended 
by the bishop of Aberdeen and 
several! eminent physicians in 
Angus, was graduated Doctor 
of Medicine." " 10th Novem- 
ber, 1719, this day, the masters signed a diploma, gratis, in favours of 
Mr. Alexander Anderson, minister at Duffus, as Doctor of Medicine, he being 
a gentleman of approven skill of physic, as also his father having been 
once regent, and his grandfather Mr. John Rou, once principall 
university." 3 



QB S . 

D. T. O. M. F. 

Sub Rcdoncu Magnifici SrCIarifTirruViri, 
D.ARjpRJ 10XST0K1, Media Regii. 

Ex dccieto & authoritatc facultatis Medic*, in 
edekrrim* Actdmi* Aberder.cnfi Ktgi*. 

Prn enxfeqiicndis in fktr* Medicina daiia- 


& Faculties Medicz Dccino. 

Publicc tjjfcuticndas propotjir GVLIEJ.MVS 
BROAD, llcrvvkenfij. 

4i frimwa dim Iu!ii t i>j)7,Loc» confetti. 




^] Imprimebat Edir.irdm Rtbanui, 

Anno ut fupu diflum. 

Title Page of M.D. Thesis 
by William Broad, 1637: the earliest extant Scottish medical 
graduation thesis 
(Original in Glasgow University Library) 



1 Johnstone and Robertson : " Bibliographica Aberdonensis," Aberdeen, 1929, p. 277. 

2 " Studies in History and Development of the University of Aberdeen," Edit. P. J. Anderson, p. 30S. 

3 " Fasti Aberdonenses of King's College, 1494-1854," Spalding Club, 1854, pp. 442-444- 



At other 

In Marischal College, the first recorded doctor is Richard Stoughton, in 
1713 ; two others, Joseph Cam and John Spink, graduated in 1714, and 
were already licentiates of the Archbishopric of Canterbury, while for many 
years those who graduated appear to have been men who had already been 
for a considerable time in practice or who had published works on medicine 
and were, in any case, 
men of recognised dis- 
tinction. 1 The same 
principle applies to the 
other universities. 

At Edinburgh the 
first M.D. was David 
Cockburn, A.M., who 
graduated on 14th May, 
1705, and there were 
twenty-one graduates in 
medicine prior to 1726, 
the year in which a 
medical faculty was 
established in this 
university. 2 In Glasgow 
University the first M.D. 
degree appears to have 
been conferred in 1703, 
and degrees were even 
conferred on applicants 
in absentia . At St. 
Andrews University, Dr. 
John Arbuthnot was the 
first recorded M.D. He 
graduated in 1696 and 
underwent examination. 
He had studied at Mari- 
schal College, Aberdeen, 
where he graduated in 
arts in 168 1. 3 In later 
life he practised in 
London, being physician to Queen Anne, and the familiar friend of Pope 
and Swift. St. Andrews University for long continued the custom of con- 
ferring degrees only after examination, but without any residence or instruction 
at the university. 

John Arbuthnot (1667-1735) 

(Original in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery) 

1 " Records of Marischal College," Vol. II., p. III. 
* " Edinburgh Medical Graduates," Edinburgh, 1867. 
3 " Records of Marischal College," Vol. II., p. 253. 



It was not until after the foundation of a Medical Faculty at Edinburgh, Modern idea 

in 1726, that the idea came into being in Scotland of conferring the M.d! ofde g r ee 
degree on young men as the consummation of three years' medical study, 
and to which they were entitled after successful examination. 

The following is the list of mediciners at King's College, with their dates List of 

of appointment : — mediciners 

Before 1522 James Cumyne 

1522 Robert Gray 

1556 Gilbert Skeen 

I 575 Chair vacant 

1619 Dr. Patrick Dun 

1632 Dr. William Gordon 

1640 Chair vacant 

1649 Dr. Andrew Moore 

1672 Dr. Patrick Urquhart 

1725 Dr. James Gregory (elder) 

1732 Dr. James Gregory (younger) 

1755 Dr. John Gregory 

1764 Sir Alexander Gordon of Lismore 

1782 Dr. William Chalmers 

1793 Sir Alexander Burnett Bannerman 

1813 Dr. James Bannerman 

1839 Dr. William Gregory 

1844 Dr. Andrew Fyfe 

Master James Cumyne had been brought to Aberdeen, about the year 1503, James 
to act as medical officer of the burgh. The magistrates, on 20th October, 1503, Cum y ne 
agreed to pay him a retaining fee of 10 merks yearly, and later one half of the net 
fishings at the fords of Dee, on condition that he should " mak personale residence 
within the said burghe, and cum and vesy tham that beis seik, and schow them 
his medicin, one thar expensis." It was also stipulated that his " wyf, houshalde, 
and barnis " should be brought to reside in the burgh. He was evidently, from 
his title of " Master," a university graduate. 1 

Cumyne seems also to have received from the Royal Exchequer a grant 
mentioned in the year 1502, and continued in subsequent years. It was paid 
through the Bishop of Aberdeen and charged against the Burgh of Cullen, 
though the name of the recipient is never stated. "To a doctor graduated in 
the Faculty of Medicine, reading in the University at Aberdeen, newly founded 
in the city of Old Aberdeen, receiving annually twelve pounds six shillings from 
the concession of the King " (James IV.). 2 

Robert Gray was presented to the post of mediciner by Bishop Gavin Dunbar Robert Gray 
on 10th March, 1522. He was described as " salubris medicine bachalarius," 
subscribed the confirmation of 1531, and was present at the visitation of the 

1 " Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen," p. 431. 
" " Exchequer Rolls of Scotland," Vol. XII., p. 106. 



Gilbert Skeen 

His book on 

Causes of 

university in 1549. 1 He appears to have been a pupil of William Manderston, 
who later taught medicine at St. Andrews, and who taught Robert Gray the art 
of medicine. 

A book, the " De Triplici Vita " of Marsilius Ficinus, printed about 1496, 
which apparently belonged to Robert Gray, is preserved in the library of 
King's College. On two leaves inserted at the end of the book there are several 
manuscript entries, apparently in the mediciner's handwriting. These include 
a statement of various lands in Banffshire from which his income was derived, 
together with the amounts contributed by each ; there is also a page filled 
with notes of medical prescriptions in his handwriting, among which camomile 
and petroselinum are indicated for the treatment of calculus, as by Linacre 
for Erasmus. 2 

Gilbert Skeen, or Skeyne, was born about the year 1522, and after the usual 
education at the Grammar School and King's College, he took a Master of Arts 
degree and applied himself to the study of medicine, being appointed mediciner 
to King's College in 1556. While occupying this position, he published " Ane 
Breve Descriptioun of the Pest," printed at Edinburgh in 1568. Having married, 
in 1569, Agnes Lawson, the widow of a burgess of Edinburgh, he transferred to 
this city in 1575 and commenced the practice of medicine in a house at Niddrie 
Wynd, Edinburgh. Here he rose to considerable celebrity, and on 16th June, 
1581, he was appointed physician to His Majesty James VI., receiving a "gift of 
pension" of " twa hundreth pundis money of our realme." 3 Another small 
treatise, entitled "Ane Brief Descriptioun of the Qualiteis and Effectis of the 
Well of the Woman Hill besyde Abirdene, Anno Do. 1580," is also attributed 
to him. 4 He died in 1599. 

Gilbert Skeen lived through the worst outbreak of the plague in Edinburgh, 
but his brief description of the pest, though printed in 1568 at Edinburgh, 
was written before he left Aberdeen. It is interesting, also, as one of the 
few examples of books published by Scottish doctors or surgeons in the 
16th century, and, like the " Chyrurgerie " of Maister Peter Lowe, it is written 
in the vernacular. The vernacular language was also employed about this 
time by Ambroise Pare, the great Elizabethan surgeons, and Richard Wiseman. 
This practice gave to such works, unlike those written in Latin, a greater usefulness 
though a narrower circulation at their time, but conferred on them a more 
enduring fame. The little treatise on the plague runs to about 10,000 words. 
The following are Skeen's views as to the cause of plague : — 

" The cause of pest in ane privat Citie is stinkand corruptioun and filth, quhilkis 
occupeis the commune streittis and gaittis, greit reik of colis (smoke of coals) without vinde 
to dispache the sam, corruptioun of Herbis, sic as Caill and growand Treis, Moist heuie sauer 
(smell) of Lynt, Hemp, & Ledder steipit in Vater. Ane priuat house infectis ather 
of stinkand closettis, or corrupte Carioun thairin, or neir by, or gif the inhabitantis hes 

1 Anderson : " King's College Officers and Graduates," Aberdeen, 1893, p. 35. 

* List of 15th Century Books in the University Library of Aberdeen, Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, 1925. 

3 " Tracts by Dr. Gilbert Skeyne, Medicinar to His Majesty," Bannatyne Club Reprint, Edinburgh, i860, pp. vii-ix. 

4 Sec reprint in facsimile, Edmond and Spark, Aberdeen, 1884. 



inuiseit vther infectit Rowmis, or drinking corrupte Vatter, eating of Fruttis, or vder 
meitctis quhilkis ar corrupte, as we see dalie the pure mair subiecte to sic calamitie, nor 
the potent, quha ar constrynit be pouertie to eit ewill and corrupte meittis, and diseisis 
contractit heirof ar callit Pandemiall." 1 




and ftim fpeciaH prcferiutioun and 
care thiirof areemtenit. 

Set furrh be MAISTER. GILBERT 
SKEYN £ : . DoCtoare in Medicine 


AX H 0 DO. 1 1 6t* 

Title Page of Gilbert Skeen's "Breve descriptioun of the pest" 
The first medical book printed in Scotland 
(Original in National Library, Edinburgh! 

The diagnostic signs of plague are given by him as follows, and he also has 
a long section upon the signs of death : — 

" Thair is mony notis quhilkis schauis ane man infectit be pest. First gif the Its 
exteriour partis of the bodie be caulde, and the interiour partis of the bodie vehement 
hait. As gif the hoill bodie be heauie with oft scharpe punctiounis, stinkand sueiting 

Tracts by Dr. Gilbert Skeyne," reprinted by the Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, i860, pp. 6 anil 7. 



tyritnes of bodie, ganting of mowthe, detestable brathe with greit difficultie, at sumtyme 
vehement feuer rather on nycht nor day. Greit doloure of heid with heauynes, sollicitude 
& sadnes of mynd : greit displesour with sowning ( swooning ), quhairefter followis haistelie 
deth. As greit appetit and propensnes to sleip albeit on day, rauing and walking 
occupeis the last. Cruell inspectioun of the ene, quhilkis apperis of sindre colouris, 
maist variant dolour of the stomak inlak of appetite, vehement doloure of heart, with 
greit attractioun of Air : intolerable thirst, frequent vomitting of diuers colouris or greit 
appetit by daylie accustum to Vomit, without effecte : Bitternes of mowth, and toung 
with blaiknit colour thairof & greit drouth : frequent puis small & profund quhais vrine 
for the maist part is turbide thik & stinkand or first vaterie colourit thairefter of bilious 
colour, last confusit and turbide, or at the beginning is zallow inclyning to greine (callit 
citrine collour) and confusit, thairefter becummis reid without contentis. Albeit sum 
of thir properteis may be sene in haill mennis vater, quhairby mony ar deceauit abydand 
Helth of the patient, quhan sic vater is maist manifest sing of deth, because the haill 
venome & cause coniunit thairwith, leauand the naturall partis occupeis the hart and 
nobillest interioure partis of the body. Last of all and maiste certane, gif with constant 
feuer, by the earis, vnder the oxstaris, or by the secrete membres maist frequentlie apperis 
apostumis (abscesses) callit Bubones, without ony other manifest cause, or gif the 
charbunkil apperis hastelie in ony other part, quhilk gif it dois, in the begining, testifeis 
strenthe of nature helth, and the laitter sic thingis appeir, and apperand, it is the mair 
deidlie At sumtym in ane criticall day mony accidentis apperis principalie vomiteing, 
spitting of blude, with sweit, flux of womb, bylis, scabe with dyuers other symptomis, 
maist heauie and detestable." 1 

The chief part of the little book is devoted to the means by which those 
exposed to plague may avoid infection, and to the treatment which Skeen has 
found useful in cases of the plague : — 

" Euacuatioun is perfitit be blude drawing, befoir or efter that ony persone hes bene 
in suspect place, in speciall of the Vaine callit Mediana of the richt arme takand in quantitie 
as strenth, temperament, consuetude, aige, and tyme may suffir. Euerilk ane remouand 
thame self fra cuntrey, town, and Air, infectit or suspect and quha may not do the samyn, 
Its treatment or mowit be Christiane Cheritie will not, man be studious to hue in fre Air. ..." 2 

" Fyre made of fir or akin tymmer ar maist lowable, makand suffumigatioun thairwith 
of the tre of Aloes, Calamus callit Aromaticall. . . ." 

" Perfumand also al claithis in priuat lugeingis with the reik of sandal, rose vater 
or sic lyke other materialis. And as ony of the simplis befoir written seruis, siclyk 
compositionis may be maide of the sam, in forme of trociseis, thik pulderis, candillis 
or pomis odoratiue in this maneir. Rec. storac, calamint. vnc. duas, rasura ligni 
Iuniperj vnc. sex. masticis vnc. vnam, benio. vnc. duas, paretur, puluis. . . ." 3 

" Four scrupulis of the pil. of Kuffus ar maist profitable, quhilkis beand tane oft befoir 
(sayis Ruffus) preseruis maist surlie fra the pest, & ar callit be some, pilulae communes, 
be vtheris pilulae Arabica?, vel pilulae contra pestem, quhilkis are dyuerse vayis dispensit, 
as followis. Rec. aloes Hepatici partes duas, ammoniaci electissimi partes duas, myrrhs 
electae partem vnam, cum vino odorato formentur. . . ."' 

" Twichand meittis, flesche is maist proper quhilk generis louable humoris, & is of 
facill digestioun, Sic as Pertrik, Phasiane, Lauerok (lark), Hen, Turture, Kid, Mottoun, 
Cunning (rabbit), Veill, & siclyk otheris, vsand thairwith Garyophillis (cloves), and Cannell 
pulderit. . . ." s 

1 " Tracts by Dr. Gilbert Skeyne," pp. 12-14. 

2 Op. rit., p. 18 

3 Op. cit., p. 19. 

4 Op. cit., p. 23. 

5 Op. cit., p. 25. 



The part devoted to the cure contains a great many prescriptions for 
ointments, mixtures, plasters, etc., which are almost all derived from vegetable 
sources and are mainly of the nature of volatile oils. 

*' Of fructis, feggis, bytter almondis, dry rasingis, sowr apill or peir, orange, citroun, 
or limown, caperis, soure prunis, or cheryis, with daylie use of vinagir or vergeus with all 
sortis of meittis : drinkand cleir quhyt odoratiue Vyne, temperat with vater, veschand 
face, mouthe, & handis, at morning with vyne temperat with rois vater, drawand at neis 
the decoctioun, of the leauis of laure, onytand the eiris with oile de spica, hauand in mouthe 
the seid of citroun, abstenand fra sleip on day lycht, Ire, crying, Venus playis, as fra maist 
dangerous enemeis." 1 

With regard to the treatment of the buboes, he recommends early opening 
by a " chirurgical hand," after which various maturative materials or suppuratives 
may be applied, for which he gives several prescriptions, again consisting of 
aromatic substances. Gangrene, which he says is wont to appear, also demands 
the hand of the surgeon, and is to be treated by maturatives and washed 
with turpentine spirit and other substances which we should call antiseptics. 
A curative plaster is finally to be applied. 

After Gilbert Skeen left Aberdeen, in 1575, the post of mediciner remained Lapse 
unoccupied for a period of 44 years. This time, however, is noteworthy for of post 
the appearance of several Aberdonians who were distinguished at home and 
abroad for their skill in the art of medicine. 

Duncan Liddel (1561-1613) was a celebrated native and practitioner of Duncan 
Aberdeen. After being educated at the Grammar School and graduating M.A. Llddel 
at King's College, he crossed to the Continent, where he studied at the universities 
of Frankfurt a. O., Breslau and Rostock. From 1591 to 1603 he occupied the 
position of professor of mathematics at the university of Helmstedt, and during 
this time, betaking himself to medicine, he graduated M.D. at Helmstedt in 1596. 
From 1596 to 1607 he was also professor of medicine, and during this time became 
Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Pro-Rector of the university. 

He apparently amassed a considerable fortune, and in 1607 he returned His works 
to Aberdeen, almost immediately afterwards publishing a treatise, the 
" Ars Medica," at Hamburg. This work consisted of five books, and was greatly 
appreciated in its time, going through several subsequent editions. In 1610, 
he published a treatise, " De Febribus," at Hamburg, and a small work entitled 
" Ars Conservandi Sanitatem," which is still well worthy of perusal, was 
published posthumously in 1651 by Dr. Patrick Dun. He died in 1613 at 
the age of 52, and in 1622, the Aberdeen Town Council erected a memorial 
brass to him in the Kirk of St. Nicholas. He bequeathed his books and 
instruments to Marischal College, as well as a sum of money which was later 
used to endow bursaries for medical students. 2 

A distinguished rector of King's College, in 1637 (though not a mediciner), Arthur 
was Arthur Johnston (1587-1641), of Caskieben (now called Keith Hall, near Johnston 

1 " Tracts by Dr. Gilbert Skeync," p. 26. 

2 Proceedings of the Society oj Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. XI., p. 45"- 



Inverurie), who had taken the M.D. of Padua in 1610. He became physician-in- 
ordinary to Charles L, and his talent as a writer of Latin verse was pronounced 
by some authorities to be superior to that of George Buchanan. He had practised 
medicine in France, and his famous translation of the Psalms was published 
at Aberdeen in 1637, although his duties as court physician kept him mainly 
in England. 

Numerous other Aberdonians of this period were celebrated as medical 
practitioners outside Aberdeen, such as Robert Straloch, who taught medicine 
at Paris ; Gilbert Jack (1578-1628), who taught at Leyden and published the 
" Institutiones Medicae " ; and Robert Morison (1620-1683), physician to Charles II., 
and professor of botany in Oxford. 1 

Alexander Reid (1580-1641), physician and surgeon, studied at Aberdeen and Alexander 
afterwards in France. He practised in different parts of England, and eventually Reid 
settled in London, where he rose to fame and wealth, becoming physician to 
Charles I. Between the years 1632 and 1634, ne lectured on Tuesdays on anatomy 
and surgery in the Barber-Surgeons' Hall, afterwards publishing his lectures in 
book form. He possessed an interesting library of medical books, which he 
bequeathed to Marischal College. These included a copy of Harvey's " Exercitatio 
Anatomica," " The Animadversions " of Dr. James Primrose upon this, and a 
number of contemporary works dealing with alchemy and chemistry. 2 

An early Aberdonian who gained distinction as an alchemist was William William 
Davidson, M.D. He was born in Aberdeenshire in 1593, being a descendant DaAldson 
of several noble families, including those of Huntly and Argyll. He took to the 
study of medicine, and after receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine, he settled 
in Paris about the year 1620. Here he maintained friendly relations with both 
the authorities in the University of Paris and those of King's College, for in 1634, 
he drew up an account of the government of the former, which he transmitted to 
John Forbes of Corse, the rector of King's College, with the object of improvement 
in the University of Aberdeen. 

This information must have been of considerable use in the re-organisation 
which was taking place at Aberdeen under the visitation from the General Assembly, 
for the chancellor and visitors entered a minute : — 

" to wryt another letter to the said Doctour W. Davidsoune, thanking him 
for his love and paines in the erand forsaid ; and giving him commissioun 
and powar, in name of this Universitie of Aberdeine, for to caus subscryve 
ane autentik copie of the evidentis and registers of the Universitie of Paris 
concerning their conservatorie jurisdictioun privileges and immunities and 
to bestow theropoun tua hundredth franks or therby, if it may not be 
had cheaper." 

In Paris he applied himself with great success to the study of chemistry and 
taught this science publicly, being appointed the first professor in the chair of 

1 " Studies in the History of the University of Aberdeen," Edit, by P. J. Anderson ; Aberdeen, 1906, pp. 305 and 306. 
- Menzies : " Alexander Read," Transactions of Bibliographical Society, June, I93r, p. 46. 


37 9 

chemistry founded in the Jardin des Plantes. He was also director of the garden 
and councillor and physician to the King of France. His first work, " Philosophia 
Pyrotechnica," published in 1635, and later editions, was a learned and elaborate 
work illustrating the power, nature and use of speculative and practical chemistry. 
His next work (1641), " Oblatio salis sive Gallia lege salis condita," was dedicated 
to Cardinal Richelieu. After this he left France for a time and became physician 
and chemist to King 
Casimir of Poland. During 
his stay in Poland he 
published his chief work, 
" Commentationum in 
sublimis Philosophi . . . 
Prodromus," printed at the 
Hague in 1660. In this 
book he makes numerous 
references to contemporary 
Scottish affairs, and among 
other things states with 
some exaggeration that 
Scots professors of medicine 
in the past had been 
invested with such honour 
by the kings of Scotland 
that they enjoyed a title 
equal to that of earls. 

The most remarkable 
of his works, entitled 
" Plico-Mastix ; seu Plica? 
e numero morborum Apo- 
spasma," was published 
in 1668, and in it he 
denies the existence of 
the disease called Plica 
Polonica, of which the 
remarkable symptoms may 
be attributed to various 
other maladies. In 1669, 
Louis XIV. ratified to 

Davidson and his descendants the privileges and exemptions enjoyed by gentlemen 
of France, and Davidson appears to have died shortly after this date. He treated 
chemistry from the modern point of view rather than from that of the earlier 
alchemists, and he was a contemporary of Glauber, who is frequently called 
the first of the chemists. 1 

Patrick Dun (died 1 6 5 2 ) 
(Original picture, by Jamesone, in the Grammar School, Aberdeen) 

1 Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. X., p. 265. 

3 8o 







The duties of the mediciner at King's College had lapsed after Gilbert Skeen 
went to Edinburgh in 1575, but in 1619 the Commission of Visitation appointed 
by King James I., nominated for this post Dr. Patrick Dun, apparently without 
a salary. 1 He was the son of Andrew Dun, a burgess of Aberdeen, and had 
graduated M.D. at 
Basel. He forms an 
early link between the 
two colleges, because 
in Marischal College he 
held successively the 
posts of regent (1610), 
professor of logic 
(1610), rector (1619) 
and principal (1621). 
He was a benefactor 
both of the Grammar 
School and of Marischal 
College, to which he 
gave 2000 merks for 
repair of damage 
caused by a lire in 
1639. He was the 
author of a medical 
treatise, " Themata 
Medica de Dolore 
Colico," published at 
Basel in 1607, and he 
edited Liddel's " Ars 
Conservandi Sanita- 
tem," published in 
1651, 2 after the latter's 
death. He held the 
post of mediciner at 
King's College till 1632. 

William Gordon, 
M.D. of Padua, was 
elected mediciner, with 
a salary, upon the demission of Patrick Dun in 1632. He was a pious son of King's 
College, for in the year 1633, he rebuilt the college crown after it had been destroyed 
in a gale. 3 In 1636 he resided "within the Spittel, with his wyff (Jean Sandilands), 
thrie bairnes, and four servants" (probably apprentices). He appears to have taken 
a serious view of his duties, for in the year 1636, he petitioned the Lords of the 

William Gordon (15 93-1640 
(Original in King's College, Aberdeen) 

1 Anderson : " King's College Officers and Graduates," p. 35. 

2 " Records of Marischal College," New Spalding Club, 1898, Vol. II., p. 28, and Vol. I., p. 231. 

3 Anderson : " King's College Officers and Graduates," p. 35. 


Privy Council, that seeing he was appointed to teach medicine and anatomy, and 
had exercised his students sufficiently for two years past in the dissection of beasts, 
he desired the Lords to give him opportunities for the practical teaching of 
human anatomy. He mentions in his petition that it was usual for the magistrates 
of cities in which universities were situated to deliver two bodies of men and two 
of women in each year 
to be publicly anatomised. 
The Privy Council met 
his request by directing 
the Sheriffs, Provost and 
Baillies of Aberdeen and 
Banff to deliver to the 
suppliant two bodies of 
executed malefactors, 
especially of rebels or 
outlaws, or failing that, 
bodies of the poorer sort, 
who had few friends or 
acquaintances to take 
exception. 1 Some of his 
successors in the post, 
however, were less 
thorough in their desire 
to teach, and some of 
them gave up lecturing 
on medicine altogether. 
He died in 1640. 

The post of mediciner 
was again vacant from 
1640 to 1649, when Dr. 
Andrew Moore was ap- 
pointed. He published a 
small book concerning the 
well at Peterhead in the 
year 1636, while still a 
student of medicine. 2 This 
well afterwards enjoyed considerable celebrity throughout the 18th century, being 
much frequented by the Duchess of Gordon and other persons of fashion. So much 
had Peterhead become a resort for the aristocracy in the north of Scotland that it 
was chosen as the landing place of James, the Old Pretender, in 1715. 

Andrew Moore graduated M.A. at Edinburgh in 1631, and studied medicine 
at King's College He was enrolled an honorary burgess of Aberdeen in 1635, 

James Gregory, 
Professor of Mathematics 

M.A. (Aberdeen) (163 8-1675) 
i St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and the first 

professor of this family 


1 " Miscellany of the Spalding Club," Aberdeen, 1842, Vol. II., p. 73. 
■ Mackaile : " Moffat Well," Edinburgh, 1664, p. 136. 




( elder ) 

and at some time, probably about 1639, received the M.D. degree from King's 
College. He resided in Old Aberdeen, where he was a Baillie in 1668, and he 
was apparently a person of considerable influence, because in 1660 he obtained 
a contribution through the court of Charles II. for repair of the College 
buildings. He died 
in 1672. 1 

Dr. Patrick Urqu- 
hart was presented to 
the post of mediciner 
by Patrick, Bishop of 
Aberdeen, in 1672. His 
mother was a daughter 
of the Earl of Airly, 
and he was reputed to 
be "a man of learning 
and parts." He held 
the position of medi- 
ciner for 53 years, 
but does not appear 
to have lectured 
during the earlier part 
of his tenure of office. 
He began public 
lessons in medicine 
in 1686. He signed 
the diploma of M.D. 
conferred on Dr. 
Archibald Pitcairne of 
Edinburgh, in 1699, 
was apparently a 
successful physician 
in Aberdeen, and 
practised the art of 
embalming. 2 He held 
the post till his death 
in 1725, at the age 
of 83. 

After the demise of Urquhart, the post of mediciner at King's College was held 
by three members of the family of Gregory in succession, over a period of 30 
years. This family produced no fewer than 16 professors in Aberdeen, Edinburgh 
and other universities. Of these, the earliest to attain professorial rank was 
James Gregory, inventor of the reflecting telescope, who was professor of 

James Gregory "The Elder," Mediciner 
(Original portrait in King's College, Aberdeen) 

1 Johnstone and Robertson : " Bibliographic.! Abcrdonensis," Aberdeen, 1929, p. 276. 
- Bulloch : " History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 157. 







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mathematics in St. Andrews and afterwards in Edinburgh, and who married a 
daughter of George Jamesone, the Scottish Vandyke. His son, James Gregory, 
known as " the elder," became mediciner at King's College in 1725. This James 
Gregory married Ann Chalmers, daughter of Mr. George Chalmers, the Principal, 
and was a practising physician in the town of Aberdeen. He retired in 1732, in 

favour of his son, James 

Gregory, known as " the 
younger," who was also a 
practising physician in the 
town of Aberdeen, and 
regarded as the chief 
physician in the city from 
about 1733. He died in 
1755, and was succeeded 
by his younger brother, 
John Gregory. 

John Gregory (1724- 
1773) was one of the early 
physicians of the Aberdeen 
Infirmary. He had begun 
life by working in the 
chemist's shop of his 
brother, and thus obtained 
a thorough knowledge of 
drugs. He also studied at 
Leyden before finally 
settling down in Aberdeen. 
Thinking Aberdeen too 
small for the exercise of his 
abilities, he tried medical 
practice in London for 12 
months, and eventually 
settled in Edinburgh, 
where he was elected to 
the chair of medicine in 
1766, in succession to 

Robert Whytt. He in turn was succeeded in the Edinburgh chair by the 
illustrious William Cullen. 

John Gregory had begun his connection with King's College in 1746, as a regent 
teaching natural philosophy, and after his return from London, when he succeeded 
his brother as mediciner in 1755, he appears to have been animated by a great desire 
to found a medical school in Aberdeen. With this end in view, he opened classes 
in Aberdeen in conjunction with Dr. David Skene, who was to teach midwifery, 
and they " persisted in giving lectures for two sessions, but they were attended by 

John Gregory (1 724-1 773) 


scarce any students of Medicine." 1 The erection of a chemical laboratory and 
a dissecting-room was also contemplated "as soon as the funds of the College will 
permit," and the Senatus issued an appeal to their alumni in different parts of the 
world to contribute proper furniture for such apartments. The scheme, however, 
ended with the transfer of Gregory to Edinburgh in 1766. 

The part of John Gregory's career spent in Aberdeen is better known than 
that in Edinburgh, because, in the latter place, his memory is overshadowed 
by that of his more distinguished son, James Gregory, who succeeded Cullen as 
professor of medicine in 1790. 

The Gregorys were of the same family as the MacGregors, and at the time of the Cousin to 
Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, Rob Roy, who was hiding in Aberdeenshire, paid R "'' Roy 
an uninvited visit to his cousin, the mediciner of King's College. Seeing young 
James Gregory, then a sturdy child, he declared he would take James with him to 
the Highlands and " make a man of him." The respectable mediciner of King's 
College was horrified at the idea, and was much relieved when, as he was walking 
one day with Rob Roy in the Castlegate, a troop of soldiers appeared from the 
barracks. "If those lads are stirring, I had better be off," said the cateran, and 
disappeared up a neighbouring close and so from Aberdeen, leaving James Gregory 
to become ultimately a celebrated Edinburgh professor. 2 

Dr. John Gregory, in his early days, had studied at Leyden with a little group Character 
of Scottish students, which also included the Rev. Alexander Carlyle, later of 
Inveresk, who, in his autobiography, gives an account of this university, the 
favourite resort for Scottish students of the time. 3 Carlyle describes John Gregory, 
when tried by the ardent spirits of Edinburgh, as being adjudged " cold, selfish 
and cunning," and pretending to " professional arts to get into business." This, 
however, he denies, and, having had him as family physician at a later period, 
he found Gregory " friendly, affectionate and generous." 4 

John Gregory published "The Elements of the Practice of Physic," but is Works 
better known as the author of " Lectures on the Duties and Qualifications of 
a Physician," published in 1772. This was a series of six lectures delivered to 
his students and intended as a guide to recently qualified practitioners for their 
conduct in practice. Although somewhat diffuse, after the manner of writings of the 
18th century generally, it is still well worth reading. 5 The following quotation, 
which is the last paragraph of the book, gives a general idea of the whole :— 

" I hope I have advanced no opinions in these Lectures that tend to 
lessen the dignity of a profession which has always been considered as most 
honourable and important. But, I apprehend, this dignity is not to be 
supported by a narrow, selfish, corporation-spirit ; by self-importance ; 
a formality in dress and manners; or by an affectation of mystery. The 

1 Bulloch : "History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 159. 

2 Rodger: "Aberdeen Doctors," 1893, p. 75. This story is also told by Sir Walter Scott in his introduction to 

" Rob Roy." 

3 " Autobiography of the Rev. Alexander Carlyle," Edinburgh, i860. 

4 Carlyle : Op. cit., pp. 178 and 179. 

s John Gregory : " Lectures on the Duties and Qualifications of a Physician," London, 177-;. 



true dignity of physic is to be maintained by the superior learning and 
abilities of those who profess it, by the liberal manners of gentlemen, and 
by that openness and candour, which disdain all artifice, which invite to a 
free enquiry, and thus boldly bid defiance to all that illiberal ridicule and 
abuse to which medicine has been so much and so long exposed." 

Gregory's works in four volumes were published at Edinburgh in 1778, after 
his death. 

James Beattie, the poetical professor of moral philosophy, refers in " The 
Minstrel " as follows to the death of Gregory : — 

" Ah, now for comfort whither shall I go ? 

No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers ; 
Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow, 
My hopes to cherish, and allay my fears. 
'Tis meet that I should mourn : — flow forth 
afresh my tears." 1 

After John Gregory left Aberdeen, the duties of the mediciner at King's 
College appear to have been carried out with little energy. 

Sir Alexander Gordon of Lismore, who had been assistant to Dr. John Gregory 
from 1764, became mediciner in 1766, when Gregory was appointed to Edinburgh. 
He had been a friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson when practising in London about the 
year 1750, and he entertained Johnson and Boswell on their visit to Aberdeen 
during the celebrated tour through Scotland in 1773. " Such unexpected renewals 
of acquaintance," said Dr. Johnson, " may be numbered among the most pleasing 
incidents of life." Dr. Johnson received with kindness his old friend Sir Alexander 
who, as Boswell states, was " a gentleman of good family, Lismore, but who had 
not the estate. The King's College here made him Professor of Medicine, which 
affords him a decent subsistence." 

Boswell then goes on to give an instance of the comparative sagacity of 
Aberdeen professors : — 

" He (Sir Alexander Gordon) told us that the value of the stockings 
exported from Aberdeen was, in peace, a hundred thousand pounds ; and 
amounted in time of war, to one hundred and seventy thousand pounds. 
Dr. Johnson asked : What made the difference ? Here we had a proof of 
the comparative sagacity of the two professors. Sir Alexander answered : 
' Because there is more occasion for them in war.' Professor Thomas Gordon 
answered : ' Because the Germans, who are our great rivals in the manufacture 
of stockings, are otherwise employed in time of war.' Johnson : ' Sir, you 
have given a very good solution.' " 2 



Meeting with 
Dr. Samuel 

1 Beattie : " Works of the English Poets," London, 1810, Vol. XVIII., p. 582. 

2 Boswell : " The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides," London, Third Edition, 1786, p. 69. 



The two travellers dined with Sir Alexander Gordon and met the Provost 
(Mr. Jopp), Professor Ross (Oriental Languages), Professor Dunbar (one of 
the Regents) and Professor Thomas Gordon (Latin). After dinner there came in 
Professor Gerard (Divinity), Professor Leslie (Greek) and Professor McLeod 
(Sub-Principal). The dinner, however, appears to have been a dreary function, 
for Boswell adds : — 

" We had little or no conversation in the morning; now we were but barren. 
The professors seemed afraid to speak. ... We sauntered after dinner 
in Sir Alexander's garden, and saw his little grotto, which is hung with pieces 
of poetry written in a fair hand. It was agreeable to observe the contentment 
and kindness of this quiet, benevolent man." 

Dr. Johnson, who had been viewing the town and colleges, and had had little 
opportunity for exercising his conversational powers in the forenoon, harangued 
the company in his best style upon the writings of Warburton, verses of Locke, 
the medicine of Sydenham and the dubious authenticity of Macpherson's poem 
on " Fingal." He was evidently oppressed by the taciturnity of the professors, 
for he confided afterwards to Boswell " how little we had either heard or said at 
Aberdeen : That the Aberdonians had not started a single mawkin (the Scottish 
word for hare) for us to pursue." Dr. Johnson was also disgusted because he 
had been unable to obtain a definite statement as to the cost of education at 
King's College. 

Dr. William Chalmers, who succeeded Sir Alexander Gordon in 1782, during William 
his tenure of office as mediciner made a half-hearted attempt to bring the office Cnalmers 
back to life. On 4th February, 1782, Dr. Chalmers announced, in the Aberdeen 
Journal, that he would commence a medical academy for teaching medicine, 
midwifery and (in summer) botany ; after his appointment as mediciner at 
King's College, however, nothing more was heard of this project. In 1787, he 
set an examination paper for the degree of M.D., which had hitherto been 
granted to candidates on the recommendation of doctors of reputation. 1 

This is the first examination paper set for the M.D. degree in Aberdeen, and is 
interesting as showing the subjects which were engaging medical attention at the 
period. (For the Brunonian Doctrine, see page 315). The examination paper 
runs as follows : — 

" (1) What are the principal peculiarities in the structure of the foetus, and are Examination 
there any impediments to seeing or hearing at birth. What are they ? of 1787 

(2) In how far may Acrimony be considered as existing in the system, 

and what are its effects ? 

(3) In what proportion of our present diseases may Debility be supposed 

to take place, and how may it be effectually obviated ? 

(4) What are the advantages resulting from the Brunonian doctrine? " 2 

1 Bulloch : " History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 165. 

2 Rait : " The Universities of Aberdeen," Aberdeen, 1895, p. 206. 



Some years later Chalmers had made arrangements to give a course of weekly 
lectures on anatomy and physiology, but it is not certain whether this project 
was ever carried out. He was a vigorous opponent of the idea to unite King's 
and Marischal Colleges, and thus provide a single school of medicine. 

An attempt to erect a medical school was again made in 1786, the leading 
spirit in this movement being William Ogilvie, professor of Latin at King's College, 
who argued in favour of a union of King's and Marischal Colleges for this purpose. 
The general idea had been propounded in 1770, that Latin, Rhetoric, Moral 
Philosophy and Logic, Oriental Languages, Divinity and Law should be taught 
at King's College ; while Greek, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Natural 
History, Anatomy and Medicine should be assigned to Marischal College. 1 

Unfortunately, even in 1786, the authorities could not agree on details, and 
the scheme collapsed for the time, although it was strongly recommended by various 
Town Councils in the north of Scotland and supported by the physicians and lawyers 
of Aberdeen, who were impressed with the necessity of carrying out this scheme 
for the benefit of the two professions. A pamphleteering warfare was maintained 
for some years between Professor Ogilvie and the other supporters of union on the 
one hand, and those who wished to maintain the independence and rivalry of the 
two colleges on the other hand. The correspondence in the local newspapers was 
sometimes humorously carried on, the colleges being designated respectively by 
the noms de plume of " Margaret Marshall " and " Janet Elphinstone." 

Dr. Alexander Bannerman was appointed mediciner in 1793, succeeded to 
the baronetcy as Sir Alexander in 1796, and in the following year was conjoined 
with his son James in the post. 2 Dr. James Bannerman, " proud, lazy and 
inefficient," paid so little attention to its duties that he let the mediciner's 
manse to a tailor and went to live elsewhere. 3 He died in 1838. It is said 
that neither of the Bannermans lectured during their 45 years' tenure of 
the post. 4 

After the death of the younger Bannerman, William Gregory, grandson of 
Dr. John Gregory, was appointed to the post of mediciner. William Gregory took 
a special interest in chemistry, and five years later, in 1844, was appointed 
professor of chemistry in Edinburgh University, when he was succeeded 
at King's College by Andrew Fyfe, who had been assistant to Professor Hope 
in Edinburgh. Fyfe became professor of chemistry to the University of 
Aberdeen in i860. 

As we have already seen, various attempts had been made to unite the two 
universities of Old and New Aberdeen. A temporary union was effected by Charles I . 
in 1641, under the title of " King Charles's University," but this was premature, 
and ended in a complete fiasco. 5 This attempt, in any case, hardly concerned 

Attempt to 
erect a 

and James 


Attempts to 
unite the 
two colleges 

1 Bulloch : "History of the University of Aberdeen,' London, 1895, p. ibz. 

2 Anderson : " King's College Officers and Graduates," p. 38. 

3 Bulloch : " History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 165. 

4 " Studies in the History of the University," Edit, by P. J. Anderson, Aberdeen, 1906, p. 312. 
■ Bulloch : " History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 161. 



medicine, because the professorship of medicine at Marischal College was not 
founded until 1700. It served, however, to provoke a feeling of resentment 
between the two colleges or universities which, during the 17th century, did 
their best to entice students away from one another. 

The waste of energy of having two universities side by side teaching the same 
subjects to a mere handful of students is obvious, but this fact does not seem 
to have impressed the authorities, who had an interest in maintaining it. 
Four schemes of union were proposed during the 40 years 1747 to 1787, of 
which the most important was that recommended by Professor Ogilvie for the 
foundation of a medical school, but all of these were abortive. 

Two medical After the collapse of the last proposal for union, each college tried to create 
schools a mec iical school for itself. At King's College, under Sir Alexander Gordon and 

the two Bannermans, the office of the mediciner had become a sinecure, although 
William Chalmers, as we have seen, tried to bring the office back to life. From 
Marischal College, however, came the real impetus towards medical education. 
It was a significant fact that three successive Principals in the 17th century, 
Patrick Dun, William Moir, and James Leslie, had been physicians, and medicine 
was added to the curriculum in 1700. The erection of the Infirmary in 1740-42, 
close to Marischal College, had a most important influence in stimulating medical 
study ; and James Gordon, the professor of medicine, who was the first physician 
to the six-bedded institution, brought his students there to see the cases. 

The real movement which initiated an effective medical school came from 
the students themselves with the foundation of the Medical Society in 1789. The 
society gained an official sanction by obtaining permission to meet in the Greek 
class-room at Marischal College for a time, and it was fortunate in securing, two 
years after its foundation, the enthusiastic patronage of William Livingston, 
the professor of medicine at Marischal College. Dr. Chalmers, the mediciner 
at King's College, and Sir Alexander Bannerman, his successor, were also 
honorary members, and thus gave the society a certain amount of official 
sanction in the other college. 

Gradually the Medical Society and Marischal College became more closely 
associated, and, in 1815, the principal and professors were made the custodians of 
its property. The society inaugurated classes on different medical subjects, and 
invited various lecturers to address it. For example, in 1807, Dr. Charles Skene, 
who afterwards became professor of medicine in Marischal College, was asked to 
lecture on anatomy to the society. Many of these lecturers were afterwards 
absorbed as lecturers into Marischal College. 

Most of the students at this time obtained their qualification to practise by 
apprenticeship, and came to the university only to attend one or two classes of 
instruction. Those who aspired to the higher branches of the profession, usually 
graduated at some foreign university or at Edinburgh, and sometimes at Aberdeen. 
The early part of the 19th century saw not only a greater desire on the part of the 



students for systematic instruction, which led to numerous lecturers in Aberdeen 
giving courses, chiefly in connection with Marischal College, but also produced 
several attempts at rapprochement between the two universities. 

In 1818, on the suggestion of Marischal College, a joint scheme of medical Joint 
instruction was formed, over which the two universities were to have equal power. schenu ' fl » 
It was proposed that an equal number of classes should be taught at each college medlcine 
and, during the winter, lectures were to be given on Anatomy, Physiology, Surgery, 
Practice and Theory of Medicine, Materia Medica, Clinical Medicine and Midwifery, 
while a course of Botany was to take place in summer. 1 

In 1823, Professor Charles Skene commenced to lecture on medicine immediately 
on his appointment at Marischal College, but he could not always obtain sufficient 
students for a class. The mediciner of King's College, however, James Bannerman, 
resisted all attempts to make him teach, although he promised to begin lecturing 
as soon as "the most distant chance of benefit " offered itself. Professor Knight 
began to lecture on botany in 1823, while instruction in surgery, materia medica, 
anatomy, physiology and midwifery was obtainable by the students about the 
same period. 

The high ideal for a medical school, set by the supervising joint committee 
of the two universities, is indicated by the fact that, in 1825, they resolved that 
every candidate for the degree of M.D. should be 25 years of age and must have 
the Master of Arts degree. 2 

The result of these strict regulations, however, was that only four degrees 
in medicine were given by King's College, and 25 by Marischal College, between 
1826 and 1839. 3 

The nature of the joint medical school is indicated in a minute of King's College, Details of 
dated 6th July, 1818, which includes the report of the medical committee appointed the schemc 
by King's and Marischal Colleges to arrange a plan for the establishment of a 
medical school. Both universities were to have equal power over the medical 
school. Courses of lectures were to be given during the winter session on Anatomy, 
Animal Economy, Surgery, Practice of Physic, Theory of Physic, Materia Medica, 
Clinical Medicine and Midwifery ; and a course of lectures on Botany during the 
summer. The most important proviso for maintaining the control of each of the 
two bodies was that the nomination to the lectureship should belong alternately 
to each college, and that the appointment made by one college should be confirmed 
by the other. 

Arrangements were made that the mediciner of King's College and the professor 
of medicine at Marischal College should lecture, the one on theory and the other 
on practice of physic, the professor who first began to lecture having the right to 
choose which of the two subjects he would lecture upon. A standing committee 
was to be appointed in each college to superintend the carrying out of the objects 
of the school. It was also provided that an equal number of classes should be 

1 Bulloch : " History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 169. 

2 Bulloch : Op. cit., p. 170. 

3 Rait : "The Universities of Aberdeen," Aberdeen, 1895, p. 



The scheme taught at each college. The scheme proceeded with more or less friction for 
dissolved 2I y earSj j-, u t. on nth April, 1839, it was finally dissolved by King's 
College, where the Senatus unanimously resolved " that all connection with the 
Marischal College in reference to the Medical School shall cease from and after the 
close of the Session," as it was found " inexpedient and even dangerous to maintain 
any further intercourse with Marischal College respecting the Medical School, when 
the letter and spirit of the original agreement have been so palpably violated." 1 

Burning A severe blow had been dealt to medical studies connected with the 

dissecting- Aberdeen Colleges by an occurrence known as " the burning of the burking-house," 
room in 1831. Early in the 19th century, before the passing of the Anatomy Act (1830), 

the supply of bodies for dissection had been very difficult to obtain and had only 
been made possible by the enthusiastic though often ill-directed "resurrectionist" 
activities of the Aberdeen medical students in the surrounding country churchyards, 
which vied with those recorded of Liston and other surgeons in Edinburgh. The 
terror inspired by the Burke and Hare affair of 1828 in Edinburgh had spread to 
Aberdeen, where Andrew Moir was lecturer on anatomy in 1831. The anatomist was 
apparently not too careful in his work, and one day a dog scraping in the open ground 
behind the anatomical theatre in St. Andrew Street revealed a dissected human 
limb to some women passing to the bleach-green. A crowd gradually collected, 
and it was found that the fragments of a dead body had been carelessly buried. 

The theatre appears to have had a sinister appearance, with three false windows 
to the front and receiving its lighting from behind. An excited and furious mob 
having assembled, broke into the theatre and found three bodies laid out ready 
for dissection, which were borne off through the streets in triumph. The place 
was ransacked, instruments and furnishings destroyed, and the mob, swelled to 
thousands, filled the neighbouring streets. Among them were jostled the 
protesting Provost of Aberdeen, members of the Town Council, policemen and 
soldiers from the barracks, incapable of any action amid a mob of 20,000 
howling people. Andrew Moir, appearing on the spot, was pursued by a section 
of the crowd, thirsting for his life, but finally managed to conceal himself beneath a 
tombstone in the churchyard of St. Nicholas. Tar barrels and other combustible 
materials were brought and set on fire, the walls of the building were undermined, 
and in an hour literally not one stone was standing upon another of the blazing 
theatre. So ended this extraordinary example of mob law, which formed a serious 
set-back to medical study in Aberdeen. 2 

Later After the disruption of the Joint Medical School in 1839, a house was purchased 

m h dlC j al f 'n Kingsland Place, Aberdeen, by King's College, and fitted up as a medical school. 
King's Here William Gregory, the. newly-appointed mediciner, was the moving spirit, 

College an ,i ;i ]j st 0 f mcc ii ca i classes, advertised in the Aberdeen Journal of 23rd October, 
1839, comprises materia medica (taught by Gregory), institutes of medicine, botany, 

1 Anderson : " King's College Officers and Graduates," Aberdeen, 1893, p. 85. 

2 Rodger: " Aberdeen Doctors," 1893, p. 240, el seq. 



chemistry, surgery, midwifery, anatomy and medical jurisprudence. The school 
attracted a certain number of students, but when Gregory left for Edinburgh in 
1844, the school gradually went down, although it continued to exist until the 
fusion of the two colleges in i860. 1 

The following is a list of lecturers in the medical school which was formed Medi 
under the auspices of the two colleges in 1818, and continued till 1839, when the Iectu 
partnership was dissolved by the Senatus of King's College. The lecturers after 
this date are those appointed by King's College only, up to the time when the two 
colleges, in i860, were fused as the University of Aberdeen : — 


October 31 

1819, October 18 

1820, August 28 
1823, August 16 

1826, November 6 

1827, April 9 

1828, December 6 
1830, April 16 

May 14 

1 83 1, January 19 
1834, September 16 
1839, July 23 



Dr. Charles Skene 

Dr. William Dyce 

Dr. George Barclay 

Dr. William Henderson 

(Previously recognised as lecturers by 
Marischal College and now by the joint 

Dr. Alexander Ewing 

Dr. Robert White 

(Resigns 29th June, 1820) 

Dr. Patrick Blaikie 

(In place of Dr. Barclay, deceased) 
Dr. Alexander Ewing 

(In place of Dr. Skene, now Professor of 
Medicine, Marischal College) 

Mr. Alexander Fraser, M.A. Midwifery 
Dr. William Knight Botany. 
(Appointment made by Marischal College, 
where Dr. Knight was Professor of 
Natural Philosophy. He taught Botany 
voluntarily since 1823) 

Dr. James Torrie 

Dr. Alexander Ewing 

(In place of Dr. Blaikie, deceased) 

Dr. William Pirrie. M.A. 

Dr. William Laing, M.A. 

(The last four appointed by Marischal 
College : approved by King's) 
Dr. John Geddes 

(In place of Dr. Torrie, resigned) 

Dr. William Laing 

(In place of Dr. Ewing, resigned) 
Mr. Andrew Moir 

Materia Medica. 

Institutes of Medicine. 

Institutes of Medicine. 

Anatomy and Physiology. 
Clinical Medicine. 

Institutes of Medicine. 

Dr. Alexander Kilgour 

(Lecturers in King's College only) 

Practice of Medicine. 

1 Rait : " The Universities of Aberdeen," Aberdeen, 1895, p. 226. 




November 5 
October 20 
October 30 

1844, March 18 

September 28 
October 7 

1S45, June 10 

October 25 

1846, November 13 

1847, September 15 
1849, June 22 

July 31 

1850, February 7 


September 5 
February 15 

1852, October 11 

1853, January 22 
April 9 
April 22 
May 26 

1854, November 9 
1857, May 1 

Institutes of Medicine. 




Medical Jurisprudence. 
Materia Medica. 

Materia Medica. 
Institutes of Medicine. 
Institutes of Medicine. 

Medical Jurisprudence. 


Practice of Medicine. 


student life 
at Aberdeen 

1839, October 22 Mr. William Templeton 

Mr. George Dickie 

Mr. David Kerr 

Mr. Robert Robertson 

(Each for a period of five years) 

Mr. William Charles Fowler 

Mr. George Dickie 

Mr Alexander Fraser 
(Joint Lecturer) 

Mr. E. B. Shirreffs 
Dr. William Templeton 
Mr. William Mitchell 
Dr. George Ogilvie 
Mr. Peter Redfern, F.R.C.S., Lond. 

(Professor of Anatomy, Queen's College, 
Belfast, i860) 
Dr. Robert Jamieson 
Mr. George Rainy 
Dr. Alexander Harvey 

(Lecturer on Theory of Medicine, Maris- 
chal College, in place of Dr. Kilgour, 

Dr. David Mackintosh Institutes of Medicine. 

(In place of Dr. Ogilvie, resigned) 
Mr. John Christie Botany. 
(In place of Dr. Dickie, now Professor of 
Natural History, Queen's College, Belfast ; 
and in i860, Professor of Botany, Univer- 
sity of Aberdeen) 
Mr. John Christie Institutes of Medicine. 

(In place of Dr. Mackintosh, resigned) 
Mr. Wyvill Thomson Botany. 
(In place of Mr. Christie, Professor of 
Natural History, University of Edin- 
burgh, 1870) 

Dr. Robert Jamieson 

(In place of Dr. Harvey, resigned) 

Dr. Duncan Reid 
Rev. John Longmuir 
Rev. John Crombie Brown 
Dr. Joseph Williamson 
Dr. Robert Rattray 
Dr. Christie 

(To act for Rev. J. C. Brown during illness) 1 

The life of undergraduates at Aberdeen in the early days is a matter of 
c onsiderable interest. 2 At the inception of the two universities it was designed 
that the students should live in residence in the colleges on the mediaeval plan, 

Practice of Medicine. 

Medical Jurisprudence. 
Natural History. 

Practice of Medicine. 
Materia Medica. 

1 Anderson : " King's College Officers and Graduates," Aberdeen, 1893, p. 83. 
• Bulloch : 'History of the University of Aberdeen," London, 1895, p. 176. 



but this arrangement was gradually abandoned. In 1753, Thomas Reid, one 
of the regents of King's College, who afterwards became professor of moral 
philosophy in Glasgow University, determined to re-introduce the system of 
residence at Aberdeen. 

The students, he held, by living in lodgings, were both exposed to temptations 
and badly served in the matter of food. The regents were now to visit the 
students' rooms at night, and to see that the college gate was shut at 9 every evening 
and opened at 7 in the morning. The rent of a room in the college, which was 
furnished only with a bedstead, table, grate and fender, varied from 7s. to 20s. per 
session, while food could be obtained at the price of 40s. per quarter. A student's 
yearly expenses, including class fees, might thus amount to not more than about £12 
in the 18th century. The mediciner attended those who were "valetudinary," 
this being, with several of the mediciners, practically their only service rendered 
to the college. Marischal College, about the middle of the 18th century, abolished 
the system of " regenting " and of residence in college, because " experience has 
shown the vanity of it." At King's College the system also gradually died out, 
although some traces of it remained into the 19th century. 

With the abandonment of supervision there developed a considerable boisterous- 
ness of spirit and action, which has been regarded as characteristic of Scottish 
students, but especially of those in Aberdeen. A picture of the way in which 
students lived at Aberdeen, about 1781, has been drawn by Colman in his 
" Random Records." He says : — 

" In the mean time, he (Professor Roderick Macleod) recommended my 
getting a lodging with Mrs. Lowe, who lived in the cabin, one storey high, 
opposite to the college gate. 

". . . With full instructions from him, whither to proceed, we wish'd 
him a good morning ; — chose my apartments in the college ; — then to Mrs. Lowe, 
hired her best room. . . . Night arrived, and the Landlady brought 
me up one tallow candle, which she said would make me cheerful. — I look'd 
round the whitewash'd room ; — a truckle-bed stood in the corner of it ;— 
some square bits of peat smoulder'd on the pavement of the fire-place, which 
had no grate ; — the wind began to rise, the hail to pelt, and the curtainless 

window to rattle. ... I was wretched ;— I undress'd 

myself, turn'd down my tallow candle for want of an extinguisher, — and 
crept into bed. 

". . . Mere boys pour in, from the Highlands, and other parts of the 
country, and sojourn there for five months, annually ;— the remaining seven 
months being a period of uninterrupted vacation.— They occupy almost 
unfurnish'd rooms, with bare walls ; huddling two, three and sometimes 
perhaps four in a bed. The accommodation of my Scotch servant, who 
had a room, and bed, to himself, exhibited a luxury which excited their envy." 1 

1 Colman : " Random Records," London, 1830, Vol. II., pp. 82 and 87. 



The following advertisement appeared in the Aberdeen Journal in 1756, and 
shows what the authorities considered were the necessary expenses of learning 
in those days : — 


The Masters of the said College do earnestly recommend to parents, that their money 
expended upon their sons at the College may pass through the hands either of one of the 
Masters or of some other discreet person in town, so as the Masters may have access to see 
the account of their expenses. And, to prevent any imposition on parents or others as to 
the expense of education at the said College, it is hereby notified, that the whole necessary 
expense of a student during the session of seven months, exclusive of clothes, books, and 
pocket-money, amounts to between £g and £10 at the second table, and £11 and £12 at 
the first. 1 

1 Extract from the Aberdeen Journal, 1756. Quoted from Gavin Turreff's "Antiquarian Gleanings," Aberdeen, 1859, 
pp. 260-261.